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Sad-But-True Facts About Male Beauty Standards Around The World

Photo: Rana Sawalha on Unsplash
Sad But True Facts About Male Beauty Standards Around The World

As women, we're bombarded with images of what an "ideal" woman is supposed to look like.

In the majority of cases that woman is tall, thin, and has features that don’t seem to fit with those of any specific ethnicity. In other words, in a world where we’re all becoming more and more multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, defining the “perfect” beauty in any one way isn’t just unfair, it's also irrelevant.

Still, that doesn’t stop the media from hanging on to one type of beauty and shoving it down our throats.

Far too often we think of beauty standards as being something to which only women are held, but if we take a moment to look around us, we’ll notice that men, too, being held to unrealistic expectations of beauty.

RELATED: What The 'Ideal' Man Looks Like Around The World

While women still corner the market on body dissatisfaction thanks, in part, to the media, men aren’t too far behind.

More and more men are struggling with eating disorders and shame that comes from not being “perfect." And similarly to how these ideals affect women and girls, young boys are also getting the brunt of this pressure.

Between 2012 and 2014, the number of beauty products on the market for men increased by 70% worldwide. In 2013, men's skim care products raked in a cool $3.3 billion, and the global men's personal care industry is expected to reach annual earnings of $166 billion by 2022.

Whether we totally place blame on the media or concede to the possibility that men want in on the self-care action, the result is still the same: Men are truly concerned about their appearance.

Naturally, as mentioned above, what's consider ideal varies from country to country.

The folks at BuzzFeed took it upon themselves to dig a little deeper into male beauty standards around the world, focusing on twelve countries: the United States, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Italy, the U.K., India, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.

Their data was compiled based on informational available in professional publications, entertainment, and social media, as well as through and independent survey.

Here are some of the most interesting findings regarding male beauty standards around the world.

1. Masculine features are highly valued in media, even if women don't seem to agree in real life.

In the United States, male celebrities identified as the "hottest" were actors Chris Evans, Channing Tatum, and Chris Pratt; all of whom are fairly masculine men, a quality with which most men struggle.

Chris Evans



A post shared by Chris Evans (@teamcevans) on

Channing Tatum



A post shared by Channing Tatum (@channingtatum) on

Chris Pratt



A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

In both Turkey and Italy, masculinity doesn’t have as much importance as it does in countries like Nigeria and Mexico, where being macho is all the rage.

In fact, in Turkey and Italy, the ideal man is one who’s really into grooming their body hair (in Turkey they wax it; in Italy they style it), and in Italy men will wear pinks and purples without batting an eye at how un-macho it might appear.

Western European countries account for 21% of sales in men’s skin care worldwide. if you’ve ever been to Italy, you know that’s that no joke. Those men really know how to put themselves together.

Interestingly enough, the results of a 2014 study found that women are typically more attracted to men with feminine features, although "women in urban areas tended to prefer masculine subjects while women in rural areas did not."

RELATED: The Male Body Type 72% Of Women Find Most Attractive Vs. What Men Think We Want

2. Men with fair skin are more heavily featured in media than are men of color.

In the U.S., white, or at least fair, skin, seems to reign supreme.

Since People Magazine first launched their ridiculous annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue in 1985, only four out of the 31 winners to date have been men of color:

Denzel Washington (1996)



A post shared by Denzel Washington (@officialdenzelwashingtton) on

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (2016)



A post shared by therock (@therock) on

Idris Elba (2018)



A post shared by Idris Elba (@idriselba) on

John Legend (2019)



A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

However, things may be changing.

According the UCLA's 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report, while white males accounted for 71% of all lead actors in theatrical films in 2015, those numbers are shifting quickly, with white males accounting for 55.9% of all all lead actors in theatrical films In 2019.

Once we step out of the U.S., things don’t change all that much, as "white celebrities from America were the most cited out of any country when discussing foreign influence on the male beauty ideal."

Although, as of 2010, 7.6% of the population in Brazil identifies as black and 43.1% identifies as mixed race, "white men are considered to be more important than black men, and having straight, fair hair is part of their ideal of beauty."

And while, as of 2011, 79.6% of the population in South Africa identifies as black and only 8.9% of the population identifies as white, more than 77% of Men’s Health South Africa and GQ South Africa magazine covers featured white models in 2014.

Skin lightening creams are, sadly, a popular item among men in South Africa, South Korea and India.

RELATED: Which Part Of A Woman's Body Do Men Find Most Attractive (And Vice Versa)?

3. Cosmetic surgery is becoming more common among men in several countries.

In Australia, many men go under the knife to procure perfection. The most common plastic surgeries for Aussie men are nose jobs, eyelid lifts, penis enlargements, liposuction, ear correction (because you’re not anything without perfect ears!), and facelifts.

Many of these procedures are also becoming normalized in Brazil and South Korea.

Although these facts represent opinions from only a handful of countries, one sentiment holds true in each: Men, like women, are under pressure to achieve unrealistic physical standards of perfection.

No one of any gender, race, or nationality is immune.

While we may not be able to stop the media from spoonfeeding us their thoughts on the subject, we can at least educate ourselves as best we can about how unrealistic these standards are.

Brown eyes don’t turn blue, many people will never be a size four, and wrinkles are not a bad thing, but rather proof of a life well-lived and years of laughter.

I realize all of that’s easier to say than believe, but if we can at least say it, hopefully in time we can convince ourselves it's true.

Life is too short to hate your body for not meeting anyone else’s vision of perfection.

RELATED: This Woman Has The World's Most Scientifically Beautiful Body

Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post and others.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 27, 2018 and has been updated.

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