The westernised appearance ideal

LIBBY HAKIM
Last updated 11:09 08/05/2014
Eastern

ORIENTAL BEAUTY: With her sharp cheekbones, feline eyes and long straight hair - model Liu Wen portrays the ideal exotic beauty.

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The popularity of treatments ranging from skin whitening creams to double eyelid surgery are pushed as evidence that many believe west is best when it comes to appearance.

However, some researchers have found that it's people of mixed race who are perceived as having the most attractive appearance. The best of both worlds, perhaps, is the true ideal.

Indeed, it seems eyes can turn green, regardless of their colour or shape, when peering towards the other end of the cultural spectrum.

Here are five trends that suggest those with a western appearance sometimes turn their eyes to the east and beyond when it comes to enhancing their appearance.

Fake tan

"If I could choose to have the skin colour of a particular ethnic group, I would possibly say Filipino," Carly Vale says.

A natural redhead with an English background, 22-year-old Vale admits she "wouldn't be caught dead without a tan on a Saturday night" and indulges in a weekly tanning ritual that involves much work, time and money.

Vale is just one of a "phenomenal number" of women who love fake tan, chief executive of  ModelCo Shelley Barrett says, adding that  the company sells a tanning product every 30 seconds.

The popularity of the fake tan is simple, Barrett says. "When your skin is brown it hides cellulite and imperfections in the skin ... a fake tan makes women feel better and it makes you look thinner."

Oriental eyes

"People do come into my surgery looking for an oriental or exotic look,"  plastic surgeon, Dr Mark Kohout says. A common way to achieve that look is the outer brow lift, a procedure that results in a "sweeping upwards look" of the eyes.  

"The second part of it is cheek enhancement, the high cheekbone is something that goes along with the exotic eyes look," he says.

 While most people  don't walk into a surgery for this look, masses do flock to cosmetic counters for this "sweeping upwards look."

From the cat eye look to dramatic Cleopatra eyes to the winged eye trend, it seems eyeliner, applied in a way that makes the eyes appear less round and more almond-shaped, is always in fashion.

Butt lifts

Designed to give the backside a rounder and perkier shape, buttock lift or augmentation surgery has increased in popularity in the US by more than 100 per cent during the last decade.

Describing the look as "South American", Dr Kohout says buttock augmentation surgery was unheard of five years ago in Australia and New Zealand.

The procedure involves day surgery and a pain in the butt for at least a week and he  said he had performed three of these procedures in the last year. 

Foreign tattoos

Lettering, symbols and characters from distant  lands no longer seem so foreign. They're scrawled - permanently - along the limbs and chests of everyday Kiwis, everywhere you look.

From souvenir tattoos from Thailand to Buddhist ideas that can't be expressed in English, to lettering that just looks plain prettier in Arabic.

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Samira Helmy, tattooist at LDF Tattoo in Sydney, says foreign tattoos are "fairly constant as a trend among Anglo-Aussies".

Sanskrit tattoos, Japanese symbols and Chinese symbols are the most popular.

While she believes people choose these tattoos largely because of general aesthetic appeal and fashion, she says,  "The exotic factor comes into it, they're trying to get something that doesn't look ordinary even though heaps of people are walking around with the same thing."

Hair straightening

There is an abundance of research into the genetic factors responsible for the straight hair that is characteristic of people of East Asian descent.

It is theorised that we were originally a curly-haired bunch and the gene responsible for straight hair developed during the Ice Age when thick, straight hair may have provided better protection against the cold environment.

But today straight hair seems to serve a new purpose - a glamorous one. And we don't need the genetic make-up for straight hair.

"In today's western society the hair straightener has become a girl's best friend," hairdresser, and ELEVEN Australia co-creative director, Joey Scandizzo says. "Poker straight, glossy hair is huge in our western society."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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