If I was to ask this question to you lovely bloggers I'm guessing the answers would be varied and would most likely include Angelina Jolie, Giselle or maybe Jessica Alba.
If i was to ask the same question to a group of men i would expect the answers to be based along the lines of FHM favourites Keeley Hazel, Sophie Howard or Abbey Clancy.
So whats the thing that unites both men and women in their views on beauty in our culture? I would offer thin toned bodies to be the common denominator. Now this is not to say that curvier girls like Scarlet Johannson are not beautiful or that thinness is the only shape of beauty that exists in Britain. Far from it, we are all aware that imperfection is almost part of perfection. What I am saying is that as women,we stack up millions of pounds on gym memberships every year because the physical 'ideal', models, pictures in magazines, celebrities in our culture serve to equate beauty with slenderness.
But ask someone across the globe and you may well find that 'Beauty' is something entirely different.
In Africa for example a thin woman is considered far less attractive than a bigger woman. Body fat indicates wealth as the woman can afford to eat well. The Melanite Tribe believe that true beauty can be achieved through scarification and the process of cutting the skin in patterns to leave 'beautiful' scars begins early in childhood. Scarification marks rights of passage in a girls life like puberty, the first period or childbirth. The amount of scarification is linked with the depth of strength and courage therefore the most heavily patterned woman are seen as the best wives and mothers. This video shows many a beautifully patterned African woman.
The 'ideal' for Japanese woman is fair smooth skin. Where once foot binding and geisha culture symbolised female subservience, beauty in modern Japan is rebelling against this and is becoming far more westernised. It is fairly common for women in Japan to use facial bleaching creams for paler skin or to undergo eyelid surgery to turn a mono lid into a more western bigger eyed double lid. Japanese Anime is a good representation of beauty being characterised by big eyes.
To take the westernisation of Japanese cultures to extreme you just have to look at the street cultures. One such 'tribe' named Kogals which literally translated means 'young girl' are characterized by flaunting their disposable income through distinctive tastes in fashion, music, and social activity. In general, the kogal "look" roughly approximates a sun-tanned California Valley Girl, and indeed, there are even some linguistic similarities between these Western groups and Kogal.
In Burma and Thailand woman wear neck coils to make their necks longer and more elegant. The Mauri Tribe in New Zealand believe that a woman with blue lips and a blue chin is the epitome of beautySome people piece the skin with inked needles and believe that the results are beautiful
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm betting Angelina Jolie would not be the top choice for most beautiful woman in Africa or Thailand or wherever.
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Its a cliche...but its pretty damn true.