Who says summer says sun, idleness and “summer body”. You know, this idealized beach body, made up of fantasies and – very – fluctuating conceptions of “beautiful”. Because what we like in Germany is not what we like in France and vice versa… Something to put into perspective!
Every summer, it’s the same tune. As we approach the swimsuit, the injunction to be thin and sharp resurfaces. Say goodbye to belly fat, cellulite and swollen knees. This quest for the “summer body”, this body that some people dream of showing off on the beach and prepare scrupulously before their holidays, varies however from one country to another. Sometimes you have to have brown skin; sometimes the diaphanous complexion. Even if beauty tends to go global. “There are a few international standards when it comes to physical beauty. However, these criteria vary according to the geographical area., analyzes the sociologist Jean-François Amadieu. Review of beauty standards, country by country. Because realizing that the universal perfect body does not exist is still the best way to get rid of injunctions…
“The porcelain complexion of Japanese women”
” At Japan as in other countriesAsia it is true that clear and smooth skin symbolizes beauty”confirms the author of The weight of appearances (Odile Jacob). And for good reason, it was initially a sign of success, wealth and higher social class. Over time, this concern has become a criterion of beauty that is still instilled today in the minds of children from an early age. Faced with this ideal, some are ready to make immense sacrifices. Papaya soaps, homemade concoctions, umbrellas… Everything is good for protecting yourself from the sun (and social judgment).
Because the privilege of fair skin is not just a cultural belief. The number of Asian celebrities with Caucasian complexion and features in cinema, in power and in the media is proof of this. Cosmetic brands have understood this well. From India to the Philippines, Korea, Malaysia and Japan, drugstore and supermarket shelves are full of skin-lightening creams, lotions, serums, masks, deodorants and even intimate products.
“The Germans have hair on their legs”
On average more blond than French women, German women have long displayed their hair on the beaches without complexes. And that still applies today. It is indeed in Germany and the Netherlands that we find the most followers of the hair in freedom. “The Germans have always left and accepted their body hair, emphasizes Jean-François Amadieu. This is a trend that is now spreading to other countries such as the United States or England, under the impetus of feminist demand movements. » In Germany, cultural factors would also play in favor of hair. For the Berlin writer Unda Hörner, the fact that the German uses the same word for hair and body hair (Haare) would elevate the latter to the rank of beauty accessories. When the French “hair” refers to the animal.
SEE THE FILE – Germany: the travel guide Figaro
“In Italy, be prepared in all circumstances”
According to the transalpine press, the Italians leave nothing to chance when it comes to beauty. In town as on the beach, you have to be impeccable: a tanned complexion, golden skin, an applied tan, a meticulous manicure, a well-trimmed beard, careful hair removal. In the Boot, appearance simply takes center stage. On the silhouette side, women are advised to pay attention to their line since a slender body is more valued and considered sexy. This is all the more true in the north of the country, which is richer.
“Turks have a mustache but shave their armpits”
In Turkey, men proudly wear mustaches, a symbol of virility, but shave under their arms. And no, underarm hair removal is not just the prerogative of women. Evidenced by the number of beauty salons for men opening their doors in Istanbul, as well as the marketing of depilatory sprays for men.
How to explain this phenomenon ? For hygienic reasons above all, notes the academic Benoît Fliche in History of hair . In the Muslim tradition, bodily hygiene is essential for purification, before performing the prayer. Since sweat is considered impure and hair comes in contact with it, it should be discarded. Ditto for the pubis which recalls coitus and the various excretions, and at the level of the neck where the demarcation between the skin and the hair must be very clear.
“Rubber buttocks in Brazil”
Generous hips and buttocks. Such is the perfect body in Brazil when you are a woman. “The important forms are valued in certain countries of the world like Brazil. The accentuation of the waist-hip ratio is so important that we do not hesitate to have recourse to cosmetic surgery », explains Jean-François Amadieu. Indeed, Brazilian women do not joke when it comes to their physical appearance, which worries them very early on. It’s not uncommon to see teenage girls – especially from well-to-do families – asking their parents for a buttockplasty or breast implants as a birthday present.
If Brazil is known for its fetishism of female buttocks (a Miss Bumbum – buttocks in Portuguese – is elected there every year), the breasts have become in recent years the number 1 priority for young women. While previously, according to local standards, a nice pair of buttocks was better suited to a small chest, the criteria of beauty evolved from the 1990s in favor of a larger cap. As for men, they also go under the knife. They favor abdominal operations and liposuction.
“The prominent muscles and abs in the USA”
In the US, better to have pumped up muscles and bulging abs. A somewhat paradoxical image, when we know that the country has one of the highest obesity rates in the world (39%). But that does not prevent aesthetic injunctions from existing. Widespread in women’s magazines since the 1950s, they are now relayed by social networks and their armada of influencers who show off from every angle. This obsession with the perfect body does not spare the boys who are asked to tackle six pack well drawn. “ Being muscular is a sign of good health, a certain reproductive capacity, notes Jean-François Amadieu. Besides, it shows others that you are responsible for your appearance. »
On the women’s side, beauty standards have evolved over the past few years, under the influence of personalities like the Kardashian clan. The new model to achieve: an hourglass body. Understand a generous chest, a slim waist, voluptuous hips and (very) plump buttocks. “It’s a body that has spread widely thanks to reality TV and social networks and that democratizes the excesses of cosmetic surgery. Inevitably, this sets new standards. » We think, for example, of a completely different criterion of beauty, popularized by the American Emily Ratajkowski: the “ab crack”, which consists of drawing an abdominal slit going from the chest to the navel.
“The tanned complexion is popular in Europe”
Long frowned upon, tanning has become a goal every time you return from vacation. This relationship to matte skin shifted from the industrial revolution. Until then, having a tanned complexion refers mainly to the working classes, who work the field and the land. An additional step is taken with paid leave. In France and Europe, in summer, you need to have slim, tanned bodies to show off in bathing suits, then bikinis from the 1960s.
This silhouette will therefore never leave the continent. “There is an enhancement of slightly tanned, tanned or even orange complexions”, says Jean-François Amadieu. Example of this injunction: according to the Telegram , 59% of women living in Liverpool apply self-tanner to their bodies at least five times a month. Why ? Because the sun is so rare in England that achieving a golden complexion has become the number one beauty goal.