Give Me the Simple Life: Beauty Around the World


On Saturday, my husband Steve and I returned from two weeks in Asia. We spent a few days in Hong Kong, where we visited places that held special memories to us after four years of living there. Then we went up to China to pop into our daughter Meredith’s world. She’s a teacher at an international school. Meredith had a week’s vacation, so we went to Vietnam together! It was a fascinating week—Vietnam is beautiful, similar to other Asians countries and yet very unique. And it’s a complicated place for Americans. We went to central Vietnam (Hai On and Hue) then to north Vietnam (Hanoi).

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting pix from our trip. Below is one of my very favorite shots—taken from my iPhone and entirely untouched.


This elderly woman was at a Buddha Temple near China Beach—central Vietnam. Her teeth were blackened or painted with resin. Think . . . lacquered. She had them blackened them when she was a young teen—hardly ate for over a month as the process was underway.

I’ve read a number of different reasons about the custom of blackening teeth—that it was a beauty ritual, that it saved teeth from decay, that it was meant to make the women look ugly in the eyes of foreign invaders (and Vietnam has a history of military conflicts: China, Japan, French, and American).  It was a tradition in many parts of Asia—for both men and women. I found an informative blog post about it, if you’d like to read more.


One of the many things I love about traveling is how it stretches my mind to understand and appreciate cultures and traditions. Teeth blackening might seem odd, even dangerous—but so was foot binding for the Chinese. And corsets for Americans.

So what current beauty trend do you think will be viewed as strange in another fifty years? (Me, I’d say tattoos!) 



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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. MarieP. says:

    Body Piercings and Tattoos ! I have a few family members who have tattoos. I hate when they show me a new one with the expectation of a compliment from me. I have had to lie in order to not insult them by saying it is “pretty” or a the tattoo artist did a good job. I try not to say anything whenever possible. I do not find them attractive in the least even if the artist is good at what they do. I find tattoos and especially body piercings to be a form of body mutilation.

  2. MarieP. says:

    P.S. So glad you and your husband had a chance to vacation with your daughter 🙂

  3. Sandi A. says:

    I took my car to the garage today and the young man behind the counter had those earring things–equivalent to a 50 cent piece in his ears. I asked him if the holes stay there when he takes them off….pray that he doesn’t do terrible things to my car. He said his ears will go back to normal in time…if he takes them out.

    • MarieP. says:

      He will need plastic surgery to close those up. I have not worn earrings for about 14 years in the top/second piercing in my ears (the old fashioned pin holes) and the holes are still there as I clean them regularly as I do the primary ones. P.S. I hope your car was returned in good repair 🙂

  4. Sasha Degn says:

    Interesting. I knew the Japanese blackened teeth. Tattoos have been around for a very long time and in many countries. They’ll still be normal in 50 years. Hardly a passing fad. 🙂

  5. MS Barb says:

    The tattoos & body piercings…
    I have kids-in their 30’s-who are pierced all over–eyebrows, nose, navels, tongues, a nipple (I shuddered as I typed this!) thankfully, they don’t have those extension things in their ear lobes…
    gang signs…

  6. Monique Wood says:

    I enjoy ready about your trip to Vietnam. This is my mom’s home country where I have 3 siblings, aunts, nieces, nephews, etc. Still living there. I look forward to seeing your pictures and reading your experiences.