The worrying beauty trends harming women around the world

Posted by for Life

Jameela takes a look at some incredibly damaging beauty practices happening around the globe, and what’s being done to stop them.

Selling hair in Myanmar

Traders in Myanmar are making huge profits from women's hair
Traders in Myanmar are making huge profits from women's hair

The Western world’s demand for human hair extensions is damaging more than just our scalp.

The hair is often taken from the heads of vulnerable women in conflict-ridden countries, including Ukraine and Venezuela. And now Myanmar has seen a growth in the hair trade, becoming the world’s fourth largest exporter. For some women in the southeast Asian country, selling hair is an empowering and legitimate source of income, but, as the country is mired in income inequality, many do so out of desperation. They can be offered as little as £9 for ten inches of hair, which is then sold in the UK for hundreds of pounds. Traders recognise the profit potential, and women are sometimes attacked for their hair.

To avoid being part of this harmful cycle, opt for extension companies that disclose the sources and ethics of their human hair, such as Great Lengths and Remy New York.

Force feeding in Mauritania

Girls in West Africa are being forced to eat 15,000 calories a day
Girls in West Africa are being forced to eat 15,000 calories a day

In Mauritania, many girls undergo leblouh, or force-feeding, in an attempt to conform to a ‘big is beautiful’ ideal.

Once a dying trend, the traditional practice has seen a resurgence since the military takeover of 2008, and ‘fat camps’ have come back into existence. Usually instigated by their parents, girls are sent away to eat up to 16,000 calories a day and are beaten if they refuse food. In some areas, 80% of women undergo leblouh in the hope they’ll attract a rich husband. However, reports suggest that the younger generation is fighting back against these dangerous body ideals.

Botched surgery in Brazil

Women are risking their lives in pursuit of the perfect bum
Women are risking their lives in pursuit of the perfect bum

After a woman died during ‘Brazilian butt-lift’ surgery performed in his home, celebrity surgeon Dr Denis Furtado, known as ‘Dr Bum Bum’, was charged with murder.

Named after the country where having a big bum is the most desired look, it’s now considered one of the most dangerous treatments in the world. One in 3,000 patients die and many suffer infections and complications thanks to botched procedures and unqualified practitioners.

The lift, which involves removing fat from the torso and injecting it into the gluteal muscles, has been officially discouraged by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. We hope other countries follow suit.

Skin bleaching in India

Beauty brands have hit a new low with the latest skin bleaching creams
Beauty brands have hit a new low with the latest skin bleaching creams

Skin bleaching is still widespread in some parts of India, and it has spawned a concerning new trend. Women are being told that having dark or ‘discoloured’ vulvas is a problem that needs to be solved with dangerous bleaching creams, which promise a lighter and more ‘virginal’ intimate area. Horrifying.

Restrictive beauty standards in South Korea

South Korean women are fighting against the pressure to be beautiful
South Korean women are fighting against the pressure to be beautiful

The #EscapeTheCorset campaign has taken over Korean social media, with women likening the laborious, expensive beauty treatments they are expected to undergo to constraining garments. Fighting back against societal pressure to be beautiful, slim and perfect, women have been uploading videos to YouTube shaving their heads and smashing their make-up. 

 Jameela says:

“There are some incredibly damaging beauty practices happening in the US and UK, and I’d like to learn more about what’s occurring globally.”  

Photography: Reuters, Getty Images

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