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Beauty means many different things in different parts of the world. What makes us decide that one person is more beautiful than another? Beauty should be as natural as possible, starting with posture and how you carry yourself. Having a pretty face does help, since your looks have a lot to do with how others perceive you. But along with that beauty you must have what it takes to appeal to everyone as a beautiful person.

When you let your individual inner self transcend outward, this is what people see of you. I have asked myself when I say the words “beautiful” or “beauty”, do I mean body build or inner self? I have come to agree that in order for one to be beautiful, you must project both inner and outer beauty.

Growing up in Tanzania, I was always mesmerized by our beauty queens. I started to wonder if my older sister could have been one, because I saw her to be so beautiful and elegant. She had lighter skin than mine, a long neck and beautiful legs. I truly thought that she looked more beautiful than any of the beauty queens that I had seen.

In order to achieve a certain type of beauty, some tribes adorned themselves with rings that were supposed to stretch and elongate their necks. Other tribes had their faces tattooed in order to create dimple-like scars and thus make them look beautiful. Body image was everything. If you did not have a gap in your teeth, then they created one for you. If your teeth did not look a certain way, they filed them to suit the beauty admired in that particular area. In some tribes, facial scars were seen as a sign of beauty. Ears, noses and lips were pierced or stretched for the same purpose.

In East African countries, we had tribes like the Masai, Somali and Tutsi who were always tall and slender, with fine features envied by many and thought to be elegant and beautiful. The Masai were talented in making themselves look different. They decorated themselves with beaded necklaces, they pierced their ears, and they adorned themselves with different jewels. They created hairstyles by shaving some of their hair to create “Mohawks” and “dreadlocks.” They painted their faces. When I look at this now, I see that they had a great sense of style and eye for colors. They made their statement with their looks and were able to distinguish themselves from other tribes.

Here in the US, we have been fortunate to embrace so many different cultures, and we see different beauty in different backgrounds. What makes movie stars such as Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Charlize Theron and Queen Latifah stand out is how they present themselves to us. They are truly natural and beautiful.

It has become easy to re-create yourself, to change a few things that you don’t like in order to achieve the beauty that you do like. We can come up with an idea or a certain image, and seek qualified professionals to help change whatever you are not happy with. This is, of course, no different than the tribesmen stretching their necks or filing their teeth. All this has been a part of what makes one beautiful since mankind began.

Yet I think universal beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What we see on the outside can help with our looks, but it is what comes from the inside that will make you glow with beauty. We have to let our inner and outer beauty shine through us everyday. It is the combination of these two things that makes us truly beautiful.