Popular Culture

14 Image-Conscious Oddities from Around the World


A country can’t just let any old unwashed masses in. Like every clique in high school, each group of citizens needs some bizarre, usually self-destructive way to physically distinguish themselves and display their warped perceptions of value and beauty. Here are 14 countries with some serious low self-esteem and daddy issues.

The United States: Tanning

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The US is like those rich obnoxious kids that every high school class has to endure. And classically speaking, the ideal of beauty for the rich and obnoxious has been plump and pale as arsenic. Fortunately, the great karmic realignment has made tanning the most fashionable body mod. Oh sure, the spiked hair, teeth whitening and endless working out will fade, but skin cancer lasts forever. And if they’re lucky enough to avoid that, they can look forward to spending their final years with skin like a leather suitcase.

The Middle East: Veils

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Islam has a ton of rules, but this fashion accessory has to make you wonder. Why cover up your hottest Arab hotties? It’s already like a thousand degrees in the desert. Are you guys trying to boil your women alive? In countries like Saudi Arabia, Culture Police patrol the streets making sure that no women can flip their hair. On the one hand, it’s part of a long-standing culture, but on the other hand some of the best pick up lines involving shoes and coitus are rendered moot. The third hand has rocks in it, ready to pelt the disobedient.

Asia: Skin Whitening

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Skin whitening is a growing trend in Asia. It’s gotten so bad, the fashionable have to watch out not to get run over by a car while crossing a street during a snow storm. Before all the numerous white people reading this begin to feel superior, the truth is it actually has nothing to do with some sort of racial self-loathing. Skin-whitening is actually a practice that dates back centuries from Tokyo to Mumbai. Well, at least the albino kid in high school will finally be popular somewhere.

France: Photoshop Health Warning

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The government of France wants to pass a law to warn young girls of the unrealistic body images brought to life by Adobe Photoshop magazine covers. The issue has become so pervasive and serious that the United Nations has classed it as the least important problem in the last country on Earth that needs to worry about it. When your obesity rate falls just slightly above impoverished third-world countries, maybe you should be focusing on more serious issues, like the incredibly dangerous 0.0005% of your country that wears burqas?

India: Henna Tattoos

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You think your wedding was a nightmare to plan? Imagine having to get half your body tattooed on top of picking out the centerpieces and arguing with your wedding planner. Just kidding, Henna tattoos, also known as Mehndi, are actually harmless body paint made from a traditional blend of dyes. That said, imagine if the usual make up session was lengthened by as much as six hours, and then half your body was wrapped up in thick cloth to preserve the color. Now imagine that this all happened in Mumbai where air conditioning is a rarity, the average high temperature seldom dips below 85 and suddenly actual tattoos seem almost preferable.

Africa: Lip Plate

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Lip Plates go back thousands of years, which proves even then people would do anything to stay fashionable. Sadly, even the hip, young Mursi-on-the-go isn’t immune to globalization, and can’t appear fashionable unless they add an iPod and an automatic weapon. And while it might look cool while it’s in, don’t expect your lip to snap back once you take it out. Ouch.

Spain: Banning Underweight Models

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Spain has a problem with skinny chicks too. Recently, Madrid banned what they considered were “dangerously underweight models” so as to not give their womenfolk more unrealistic images of beauty. Unlike France, obesity is actually a large and growing problem in Spain, so this choice makes a lot more sense. Government experts behind the decision quote the primary causes behind the obesity boom as “Bacon Tapas” and “Paella being so frickin delicious“.

Afghanistan: Burqas

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For the modern hardcore Muslim just trying to get by in this crazy, fast-paced world, sometimes a simple hijab or niqab just doesn’t provide the coverage needed. Hence the burqa was introduced, possibly after watching that Charlie Brown Halloween Special where he wears the sheet. All this banning of eyeballs and ankles must keep sex relatively restrained and probably leads to very healthy — oh wait neighboring Pakistan is the top searcher of “horse porn”.

Africa: Scarification

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If you’re too much of a pansy to jam a plate into your lip, African tribes also delve into Scarification. The process involves cutting the skin with a sharp device, then rubbing caustic juices in the wound to ensure the formation of raised keloids. Suddenly your generic Asian character that says what you can only assume is “Strength” seems incredibly less badass.

South Asia: Teeth Sharpening

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But even more badass is teeth sharpening. It’s like telling your dentist to make you look like the clown from Stephen King’s It without the make up. The practice is considered the ultimate indicator of beauty among the Bagobo women of Mindanao. (Warning: don’t click on that link if you want to sleep tonight. Or ever. Again.) Well, that’s one way of getting out of giving oral sex to the wife.

Brazil: Breast Implants

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While the US still leads the way in this area, in Brazil it’s just as big, if not bigger, of an obsession. Everyone in Rio would have ginormous fun bags if only they had the cash. Included here is a guide to some of the major charities based in Brazil. Please, give what you can. For uhm…the good of humanity. Yeah.

North Korean: Kim Jong Il Body Suit

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When you’re the “Great Leader” of a third world Hellhole, the only advantage is that you can pass on fashion tips. After all, your prisons are full of people that compared your body suit to Dr. Venture from the Venture Brothers or that puppet from Team America.

Japan: Genital Beading

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Leave it to Japan to make everything weirder. It’s not enough that they put horseshoes on their boots or creep everyone out with their schoolgirl fantasies. The Yakuza of Japan apparently enjoy this practice of placing beads under the skin of their junk. They place one bead for every year they’ve been in prison or participated in a Japanese game show.


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