Summary: Mirror, mirror on the wall, are Americans the vainest of them all? How has American culture defined beauty both at home and abroad, and how does the American melting pot contribute to the ever-changing definition of beauty and fashion?
For starters, perceptions of beauty are not constant. From a biological standpoint, certain physical preferences may have evolved for a reason, but when you get into the finer details of what makes one person’s face or body more attractive than another, cultural beauty trends play a huge role as well.
The evolution of what’s considered beautiful can be tracked through recorded human history, and adapts to the developments of a given society. So what defines American beauty today?
Focus on Body Shape
American beauty standards prioritize beautiful body contours. The popularity of breast implants, breast lifts and liposuction continues to surge among Americans striving to achieve the ideal body shape. Procedures for enhancing body shape, such as breast enhancement and tummy tucks, remain the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries in America today.
Having a prominent, youthful bust line, a flat stomach and sculpted buttocks and thighs is more important than ever to today’s American women, while American men are not without their own set of appearance preferences. Cosmetic surgery is now more popular than ever for men interested in obtaining chiseled abs, prominent biceps and a sculpted, masculine chest.
It seems only appropriate that a culture fascinated with skyscrapers and Hummers should also love large physical features, provided that they’re in the right areas. Americans are increasingly attracted to full lips, big eyes, large breasts and curvaceous bottoms. While thin waists and legs are also highly prized, a modern embrace of plus-size body types has broadened beauty standards to include more generously voluptuous figures.
On the other hand, not everyone wants the same look. Men and women have various preferences and appearance goals, and, in a culture that prizes individuality, unique features are often celebrated. Non-classical yet striking facial contours are often accentuated further by hairstyles or makeup, while preferred breast size varies depending on lifestyle and fashion taste. For many Americans, cosmetic surgery is about bringing out the best in your face and body, not transforming into someone new. However, other cultures hold a different standard of beauty, most notably in South Korea.
Cosmetic Surgery in South Korea
In a highly competitive culture like South Korea, adherence to very specific, standardized beauty ideals can significantly impact personal and professional success. The popularity of cosmetic procedures in South Korea far trumps American statistics. One in five women living in South Korea has undergone some sort of cosmetic procedure, compared to one in 20 American women.
The most common cosmetic surgery procedure performed in South Korea is known as double eyelid surgery, a technique that adds a crease to the upper eyelid. South Korean men and women are also opting for facial contouring methods like jaw reduction, rhinoplasty and chin implants to achieve the slim, V-shaped jaw structure with small nose and large rounded eyes that reflect the current beauty trends.
While Koreans are interested in body shape as well, this concern is secondary after achieving the perfect facial proportions. Maintaining fair, glowing skin that appears youthful and natural is also of high concern, which may be due to common Asian class associations of darker skin with peasantry or outdoor labor. Whatever the cause, South Koreans have pinpointed exactly the look they want, and many don’t stop until they achieve it.
Beauty trends may be temporary and vary among different cultures, but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect us all. Knowing what defines beauty for you can help immensely in developing specific cosmetic surgery goals for bringing out the best in your appearance. We are all different because we come from different cultures, so to “look your best” you want an expert who can understand who you are to achieve the most beautiful you.