I have a friend who broke up with his girl just because of a comment from his Mum about his girl’s high cheekbones. The Vietnamese think that a girl like that will bring bad luck to her husband – and may even bring death to him! The round face shape represents prosperity and wealth to Vietnamese. While you are travelling around Vietnam you may see many Vietnamese woman who cover their faces with masks and gloves, said to be necessary because of the pollution in the streets. This is only part of the reason; the main reason is to protect their white skin. That is the second of the two main beauty rating standards of Vietnamese. First is slim shape, second is pale skin!
These values may be different in different parts of the country too. For example, Hue people have as many as 10 values of beauty: they put the sweet voice first; teeth and hair are also ranked highly. Mountainous areas value strong people: if you possess big and strong legs, that will attract lots of boys and girls around you.
Vietnamese parents also suggest their own standards to guide their children in marriage. They think a girl with a small waist (called a “bee’s waist”) strongly indicate excellent prospects for hard work and bearing of children. This thinking still exists in most Vietnamese people since 90% are still farmers with limited education.
You are not acquainted with the values above? No worries, because Vietnamese people think that all Westerners are beautiful because they are white and tall, but Vietnamese have trouble in recognizing or remembering Westerner’s faces as they seem to be all the same. I have heard lots of stories about this situation, so don’t be surprised the next day if your new friend just passes by without a word to you.
Today the values are changing as the young Vietnamese people are exposed to international values, but trust me, the traditional values developed over thousands of years still exist for the majority of the people.