I've blogged in the past about "Gerewol"-- a male beauty pageant among the Wodaabe tribe in the Sahara --but just came across a fascinating analysis of the significance of each beauty ritual.
"1. Tall and athletic: Ostrich plumes and pompoms emphasise height
2. Narrow face: Decorated with red ochre
3. Wide eyes: Black eyeliner made from charred egret bones
4. Facial symmetry: Enhanced with black, yellow and white patterns
5. Aquiline nose: White clay arrow stripe to look more streamlined
6. Long braids and cowrie shells: Symbolise fertility and wealth
7. White and regular teeth: Bared and emphasised with black lipstick
8. Good dancer: Beaded necklaces and bodices jangle against chest in time to the beat
The colours used are symbolic too, says Mette Bovin, a Danish anthropologist who has worked with the Wodaabe since the 1970s."