Global Concepts of Beauty was a panel discussion held earlier this month. Five students from different countries spoke on what is seen as beautiful in their own culture. The speakers covered France, India, China, Saudi Arabia, and various cultures from East and West Africa.
I found that the specific points that each speaker hit on were rather similar. Each speaker talked some about fashion, and also about body type. Each one compared their culture to the United States. Also, most speakers only focused on what is pleasing for women. The one that talked about men as well was from India, and was not the single male student on the panel.
The speaker from East Africa (and her friend from the West portion) particularly intrigued me. I recently read a book called Americanah written by Chiamanda Ngozi Adiche, who is from Nigeria. (My roommate recommended it to me.) Both speakers mentioned a topic that was part of the book, which is the disparity between American-African beauty standards and continental-African beauty standards. The most specific of these is the increase of Africans with natural hair. This phenomenon is mostly outside of the continent of Africa. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that their hair is hard to maintain naturally, but I found the different rather intriguing.
I felt that I personally dress closer to what is acceptable in French culture. The speaker highlighted the focus on individual style, which I like. She also made some jokes about how “everyone wears black a lot” and how at first in America, some people thought she was always depressed because of it. I know that I would struggle with dressing up every day (I definitely have American sensibilities that way), but if I got used to it I would probably enjoy it.