Ukrainian women are typically known for their slimness, beauty, style, and femininity
Ukrainian women: fact and fiction
Last update: Nov. 10, 2010 (minor edits and internal links added)
Ukrainian women are well-known for being highly sought-after in the international marriage and dating industry. Many foreign men come to Ukraine in the hopes of finding the true love they couldn't find at home. At their service are scores of marriage agencies, travel agencies with dating tour packages, and a thriving sex industry. How did Ukraine achieve the dubious fame of an international supplier of accessible and marriageable women? Are Ukrainian women all they're cracked up to be? This article will try to take an objective, cold-blooded look at Ukrainian women.
A startling Sunday stroll down Khreschatyk Street in Kiev...
At some point many visitors to Ukraine will take a weekend stroll through the historic center of Kiev in warm weather and end up on Khreschatyk Street, which is closed off to automobile traffic on Sundays. If you're a man, you are likely to be blown away by the number of beautiful women nonchalantly displaying their scantily clad bodies. Drop into a nearby cafe, and you'll see many well-dressed Ukrainian women with a slim and honed appearance. Stop for a meal at TGI Friday's and you'll find yourself ogling and being ogled. Head to a nightclub and you'll be bedazzled by carefree, gyrating "devushki." Open your mouth and say something with a fine British, Scottish, or Australian accent (American might work, too) and you're an instant winner. "I must be in heaven," you wonder.
This is fact, not fiction. Ukrainian men and visitors from Russia and other Slavic countries also come away with the same impression (though they often don't get the extra points with women that western men do simply by virtue of being from a wealthy and prestigious country).
What is different about Ukrainian women?
Compared to women from many western countries, including the United States, Ukrainian women have a number of things going for them that contribute to their appeal:
- The art of attracting a male is more developed in Ukrainian culture, and flirtatious behavior is generally viewed positively.
- In Ukrainian cities it is generally frowned upon for a woman (especially of fertile age) to become obese, not take care of herself, or have a "mousy" appearance (too bad this expectation doesn't apply equally to Ukrainian men).
- Most Ukrainian women must walk a lot and are thus unable to develop a flabby and untoned appearance even if they do become overweight. Also, unhealthy fast foods and overly processed sweet and fattening foods, though more abundant, are less common than in the West (but, sadly, by 2010 it has become clear that the modern food industry is making more and more Ukrainians fat).
- Spontaneity, emotionality, and a carefree and humorous attitude are valued in Ukrainian and Russian urban culture. Women are largely unhindered by prudishness, moral prohibitions, or an inability to take things lightly.
- Ukraine lacks gender role confusion and paranoia about sexual harassment that has become characteristic of some western countries, particularly the United States. Being sexy or overtly masculine is viewed positively.
- Ukrainian women probably identify less with their careers and usually do not feel an imperative need to be independent from men. On average they are more comfortable with typically female roles and do not need to compete successfully with men or even outdo them to feel empowered.
For your average male these traits are all desirable. In Ukraine one can often hear foreign men gripe about the women in their countries: "unrealistic financial expectations...", "too success oriented...", "don't take care of themselves...", "not nearly as feminine..." For such men, Ukrainian women can be irresistable. They tend to have lower expectations and to be more domestic, feminine, and attentive to their appearance.
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Are Ukrainian women really the "most beautiful in the world?"
Other than Ukraine, the author has also visited a number of other countries (Slovakia, Poland, and Russia) where people also claim that their women are "the prettiest in the world." In these countries, foreigners are often asked with a wink what they think of the local women. Visitors to Ukraine often note what seems to be a larger numbers of stunningly attractive women than in their home countries. There are several factors that contribute to this impression other than the actual beauty of Ukrainian women. Consider that some of the perceived distinctive beauty might actually turn out to be a kind of "optical illusion."
- Almost all foreigners in Ukraine spend their time in big cities where the women are more fashion conscious and enjoy a higher social status. At home, these foreigners spend their time in suburbs. In Ukraine, they stroll around central areas of town; at home, they spend their time at work and shopping centers. As tourists, they are exposed to a different category of women than they tend to see back home.
- Ukrainian cities have more public areas where large numbers of people are "on display." To get the same effect in the U.S. you might have to go to the local indoor shopping mall.
- With higher population densities in Ukrainian cities, there are simply more eye-catching women per square kilometer than in your typical low-density American suburb.
- In the U.S. (much less so in Europe) post-college life can easily turn into a monotonous "work-home-work-home" routine where your only contact with freely roaming young women is limited to the supermarket or Walmart. In contrast, Ukrainian society and infrastructure provides constant close contact with strangers, including attractive women that you might not see at your job or drive-through restaurant.
- Ukrainian women tend to dress in flashy, tight clothing (even many heavier women) and high heels, while loose, androgynous clothing is more popular in the West. This makes Ukrainian women by comparison appear curvier and more feminine.
- Most men will be paying attention to the "under 45" category. Obesity over this age is just as prevalent as in the U.S. (and, sadly, growing steadily in all age groups thanks to the modern food industry).
- Few foreigners venture into the smaller towns and villages where things may be very different. Here, robust chunkiness and very little makeup (maybe just some dark red hair dye) are often the norm, even for young women. Women and their husbands and boyfriends may even be teased if they are too thin, and it is common to hear expressions like "(she's) chubby and pretty" or the derogatory word "emaciated" instead of a positive "thin."
- If women from other countries (the U.S. and others) dressed and made themselves up like Ukrainian city women, might they appear similarly attractive?
To get a more well-rounded picture of Ukrainian women after being dazzled by the beauty on display on Khreschatyk Street in summer, try spending some time on minibuses in outlying neighborhoods of the city in winter. You will find that obesity is rampant among women who have had children (and among men over 30) and that most women are in the "plain" category. In the past decade obesity has gone mainstream and is now a problem for children and even a large number of student-age women, who were almost all slim not too long ago. When they are unable to dress scantily due to the winter cold, you might find Ukrainian women to be about as appealing as those back home.
There is also the significant issue of personal taste. Many men will be immediately taken with the prevailing "femme fatale" fashion, while others will find it over-the-top and trashy. I must confess that after some years in Ukraine I have come to view much of the fashion as gaudy, pretentious, and tiresomely uniform. More and more, I find myself inadvertently noticing how women are so often less attractive than they make themselves out to be.
On the other hand, I note how so many women of plain appearance who seem frumpy and indifferent in the United States have Ukrainian counterparts who dress up and take care of themselves to accentuate their better parts and compensate for the not-so-perfect. I do not believe that the Ukrainians have any inherent physical advantage. Recently I visited the university town of Ann Arbor, Michigan and was positively blown away by the number of good-looking girls -- no fewer than on Kiev's Khreschatyk Street.
What chances do I have with Ukrainian women as a foreign man?
Let's be frank. If you're a western male of European descent, your chances are probably pretty good. Turks and Arabs don't do very poorly, either. Coming from a developed country immediately places you a rung or two higher in status compared to your Ukraine-born "competitors." If you go to an economically depressed small town or village, you may practically feel like a god. As an average bloke in your home country, you may find yourself flattered and spoiled by attention from women the likes of whom you rarely met back home. At the risk of seeming overly cynical, here are some tips to maximize this advantage:
- Stick to situations where you can preserve your fragile foreign allure. Avoid situations where you might look like a bumbling fool alongside skilled and experienced Ukrainian men, such as trying to solve uniquely Ukraine-related problems on the fly. Leading an English conversation club full of young women and confidently teaching them new phrases is good. Clumsily complaining to a restaurant administrator about poor service in front of her is not.
- Present yourself as a foreigner (i.e. speak English for that "wow" factor rather than introducing yourself in faltering Russian/Ukrainian), but appear knowledgeable about things that would be relevant to a typical Ukrainian. For instance, try to learn and use some basic Russian or Ukrainian (after you've caught her interest), learn about the local history, culture, geography, and politics. This will give you lots of fun small talk material and will make you appear less self-centered.
- Don't dress like a slob (your local "competitors" certainly won't). Don't seem desperate or preoccupied with sex. Don't expect to circumvent basic courtship by flashing dollar bills, giving a girl a cheap gift and suggesting you've done her a great service, or otherwise letting on that your "superior" citizenship allows you to "buy" her so easily. Preserve a sense of dignity even if the materialistic factor is obvious.
- And finally, for the rest of us expats' sake, please don't assume that all foreign men in Ukraine must be "sexpats" (a condescending term among the expat community).
Where to pick up women
It's easy — any place expats are known to frequent. That's where the women who are looking for people like you will be. This includes western restaurants (TGI Friday's, not McDonalds), Khreschatyk Street, Irish pubs, English classes with native speakers, English language movie nights, public meetings advertised in the English language newspaper The Kyiv Post, tourist hangouts (for instance, Andriyivskyy Uzviz in Kiev), and especially nightclubs. Beware though that these places can also have women who like to take advantage of foreigners. There is also a good chance of meeting women while traveling, doing business, or engaging in other activities.
Now toss that passport out...
At some point into a serious relationship, if exporting your bride to your home country is not an imminent prospect, your citizenship will cease to be a major factor. It could even become an impediment if cultural conflicts arise and your girlfriend realizes that everything would be easier if you were Ukrainian. Your privileged passport will only get you so far.
What if I've been in Ukraine for a few years and speak the language well?
If you are well assimilated and speak good Russian/Ukrainian, you probably will actually have the disadvantage of not being in the places where girls specifically congregate to pick up foreigners, and not being able to play the typical uninformed foreigner chit-chat game. It also means you'll have less contact with women who might want to use you and that you'll be on a more or less even playing field with local men. Rather than getting to know Ukrainian women who are specifically looking for a foreign boyfriend, you'll be mostly getting to know women who haven't thought about it much and may actually have serious reservations ("what if he leaves soon?" "can he make a living here?" "can he fit in?" "can he get along with my family?"). Some Ukrainian women entertain hopes of moving abroad and living happily ever after, but even more do not!
On the other hand, your cultural and language knowledge will make it easier for you to get to know Ukrainian women well and remove the psychological barriers between people of different cultures. Your background puts you in a slightly better position to have an authentic experience dating or marrying a Ukrainian women.
Read more about relationships in Slavic vs. Anglo-Saxon cultures
Read about The Curse of the Amero-European Expat
Ukrainian matchmaking agencies
There are numerous matchmaking agencies promoting Ukrainian women for foreign men. Some have sophisticated websites with galleries of women and all sorts of useful functions, while others (at least as of 2003) have paper databases and target walk-in visitors.
Agencies' home pages usually feature hot models in swimsuits or lingerie that are probably not typical of their data base and might not even be Ukrainian. Next, the databases may include women who are currently in a relationship. Even women who are interested in marrying a foreigner don't typically put all their eggs in one basket and wait passively for their prince to come. They are out meeting people and sometimes getting into relationships with local men as well as foreigners. Just because they're on the website doesn't necessarily mean they're 100% available, right now. Finally, girls' contact info can be obsolete or their profiles kept on site long after the girls are gone or married. One of the ways matchmaking websites generate business is by presenting enough attractive women to get people to sign up for the paid services. Therefore, it is good to take the pretty faces with a grain of salt and not become too attached to any particular one.
Many matchmaking agencies provide genuinely good services and have scores of satisfied clients who are happily married. Just keep in mind that it is easy to end up throwing away thousands of dollars searching for a Ukrainian wife at a distance, after paying for sign-up fees, correspondence rights, letter translation, and costly dating tours.
Avoiding scams in the Ukraine matchmaking business
The purpose of any scam is the same -- to trick you into giving away your money. Even intelligent people can be tricked into spending thousands of dollars for various matchmaking services, only to realize later that they were being tricked. Don't let your fantasy of finding a "beautiful Russian/Ukrainian bride" cloud your reason.
So, never send money to a girl you have never met. If she asks for money, she is probably either insincere in her intentions or not the person on the photographs but instead a cold-hearted scammer who is simultaneously phishing multiple men for money. Even more than with normal online dating, obey this cardinal rule: don't allow yourself to get too attached to someone until you've confirmed their identity, preferably met in person. The infatuation mechanism is well understood and exploited by scammers. They know that an infatuated man will see and believe what he wishes to be true, and that he is likely to send money when given a sob story and asked repeatedly. If you are corresponding with someone, get their direct contact info as early on as possible so that you can communicate via videochat. It is far easier to scam someone if there is no such direct contact.
If you do choose to register with a matchmaking agency, definitely read up on other foreigners' experience before getting in too deep. Read the forum ruadventures.com. These people have a lot of valuable experience to share.
Even after you meet people in person you will have to be aware of manipulators. I have heard second-hand that there are women who work foreigners for money and gifts and disappear. Some are married or have boyfriends and don't tell their partners about their "side business." With the language barrier these women have an even easier time of it; if there is doubt or misunderstanding the man will tend to think it's a language or cultural issue.
Expect these women to be in places where they can most easily meet foreigners who are in the mood for romance. Don't be gullible and don't be eager to give gifts or to help pay for "my last semester of tuition," "my mother's urgent operation," a "bribe to get my innocent brother out of jail," etc. But obviously, don't be so blindly paranoid that you would miss genuine feelings and a potentially great relationship.
Despite these sobering dangers, many foreign men (and a few foreign women who marry Ukrainian men) successfully find Ukrainian spouses and are satisfied with their choice, contributing to the largely positive image that Ukrainian women enjoy worldwide.