When we talk about beauty standards, we usually have a particular set of assumptions in mind. In the United States, the mainstream beauty ideal usually (and unfortunately) leans toward the Barbie look: Blue eyes, blonde hair, full lips, and so forth. But what’s too often overlooked is how specific that idea of beauty is to our country.
Freelance journalist Esther Honig created a fascinating project that explores what beauty standards are in each country. In the series, “Before & After,” Honig sent an un-retouched photograph of herself to 40 Photoshop experts around the world asking for them to transform her face to match their idea of beauty. Her simple request to each of them: “Make me beautiful.”
“It immediately occurred to me that in this pool of workers, each individual likely had an aesthetic preference particular to their own culture,” Honig told HelloGiggles. “If you sent, say, five of them the same image they were bound to alter it in drastically contrasting ways by influence of their cultural concept of beauty.”
The results are remarkable. The photos below represent the images that Honig has collected thus far, though she is still seeking out submissions on her website.
“Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty,” Honig writes on her site. “But when we compare those standards on global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive.”
Esther’s Original, Un-Photoshopped image: