You may think that the only way to be beautiful is to be tall and thin, with a perfect smile and shampoo-model hair. But don’t expect that to be the case wherever you go.

Singer and tabloid magnet Jessica Simpson now hosts a new show on vh1 called “The Price of Beauty.” While the show features many over-the-top publicity stunts and has not received many viewers, the basic concept seems good. Simpson and a few of her friends travel around the world to document the tortures and treatments that women endure to fulfill an elusive idea of beauty.

My own quest to discover what other countries consider beautiful led me to a slightly more established source: Oprah. Not only did Oprah host Jessica Simpson for a discussion about beauty earlier this month (read about it here), but she also did a similar show about worldwide beauty in 2008. During both shows, special correspondents like Lisa Ling traveled around the world to see how women from Japan to Norway define and achieve beauty—with everything from leg-lengthening surgeries to tattooing their lips blue.

Some of the most surprising things I read? Japanese women swear by bird dropping facials. And Brazilians outdo Americans in their pursuit of thinness—the country is the biggest consumer of diet pills in the world. Women in Thailand tribes elongate their necks with stacks of brass rings, and girls on a West African island try to get as fat as possible (by eating gallons of high-fat milk) in preparation for marriage. Read more on Oprah’s website, and also watch her exclusive global beauty secrets video.

Suffice it to say, there are as many definitions of beauty as there are cultures and people in the world. It’s especially interesting to hear these definitions from women themselves. Marie Claire magazine runs a monthly column called “What I Love About Me,” which features groups of women, many college-aged, from around the world flaunting their favorite assets. Women from Iceland, Dubai, or Barcelona praise their piercings, scars, and eyebrows. You can even find similar columns featuring women from around the United States.

Take a look around while you’re traveling abroad. You may think that you stick out here in America, but other countries may find your tattoos, curly hair, or long neck to be just right.

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