By  on March 16, 2007

Japan, Spain, England, Mexico, China. The Academy Awards last month was peppered liberally with beautiful young actresses from all corners of the globe. Ditto the runways of New York, Milan and Paris, where the Brazilians and Eastern Europeans were joined by models from around the world. The global assortment is reaching fever pitch, it seems, with a new generation of young women challenging traditional notions of beauty. Take half-Vietnamese, half Polish-Irish, Hawaiian-raised action star Maggie Q, who held her own in the blockbuster Mission: Impossible 3 opposite Tom Cruise, or Alice Braga, the young Brazilian actress known for her role in City of God, who shares her exotic looks with her aunt, actress Sonia Braga. (Next up is a star-making role opposite Will Smith in I Am Legend.) The modeling world’s latest sensations are breaking beauty barriers, too. From Hilary Rhoda, the Chevy Chase, Md., native whose full eyebrows and sporty-yet-sophisticated demeanor earned her an Estée Lauder contract, to the British-born bleached-blonde Agyness Deyn (currently appearing in ads for Giorgio Armani) and runway favorite Ajuma Nasayana, who hails from Nigeria, the new icons of beauty are anything but standard.

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