Some cultures have extreme body modifications as standards of beauty, these beauty dimensions seem so normal to those who practice it, but shocks the world and are frequently viewed as strange by many.
However, this should remind us of cultural diversity. Below are some of such beauty standards around Africa.
Elongated neck is one beauty standards spanning many centuries and Ndebele tribe of Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa Adorn their necks with brass and copper neck rings that give their neck an elongated look. The Rings are given to the women by their husbands, and wearing them shows faithfulness and loyalty to their husbands. Though wearing the brass rings around the neck does not elongate the neck, the weight of the rings pushes down the collarbone and ribs to the point the collarbone appears to be part of the neck. There are health risks involved in doing this, some of them include: blood clots, atrophied neck muscles, pain, infection, deformation of the bone structure and blockage of blood flow.
The Mursi women of Southern Ethiopia and parts of Sudan engage in stretched lips as a beauty standard. Girls as young as 13 years, use plates or disks as a beauty accessory to stretch their lower lip. It also signifies a young girl’s transitions into adulthood. The women take pride in crafting their own plate and include some ornaments. The final diameter of a Mursi woman’s lip ranges from 8cm to over 20cm. The custom is still maintained by a few groups in Africa.
Scarification is another custom that is common in most Africa countries. Using stones, glass or knives superficial incisions are made amounting to permanent decoration that communicates a myriad of Cultural expressions and a way of tribal identification for certain tribes in the West African Region.
The Yoruba people in Nigeria have their own distinct tribal marks and people from Northern Ghana also have their distinct marks that serve so many purposes. Most beauty advocates and human rights group have called for the practice to be outlawed but it is still prevalent in certain parts of Africa.
However, in Ghana, our cultures and languages have melted away and history is the only thing left to give us a glimpse of what happened the past. In other parts of the world, the cultural significance of their tradition is yet to wane.
By: Bridget Mensah