One woman Photoshopped 126 photos of her body to challenge beauty standards

We are ALL about feminist artists here at Hello Giggles, and our favorite new find is University of Oklahoma B.F.A, Art Media student Kelsey Higley and her latest project “Manipulated.”

The video project utilizes digitally manipulated images to comment on society’s perceptions of beauty. The student project came about after lots of consideration about the evolving nature of beauty standards. “I have spent countless hours reading online to research what society deems as ‘beautiful’ and found it can be a plethora of things,” Higley tells Hello Giggles.

“Being a young woman, I have had many battles with this idea of beauty. I’ll go through stages where all I want in life is to be super fit with rock hard abs and big boobs, then after a while I’ll flip to the other side and tell myself that I should love and embrace the body I have. But as soon as I start scrolling through the Internet, my mind is flooded with images of this impossible, ‘ideal’ beauty.”

So what is this impossible “ideal” beauty?

In her video, Higley set about to play with the idea of how quickly-changing and unrealistic this notion of body perfection really is. She created a stop-motion animation where she manipulated each frame so that it appears that she is physically changing the shape of her body in extreme ways.

“The video goes through several stages of ‘beauty’ as I receive conflicting opinions on what true beauty is,” she writes in her artist’s statement. “As I go back and forth, I end on my natural body and the video starts over. This looped animation illustrates the effects media and public opinions have on the way we look at ourselves. I have chosen to use myself in this short to show my own inner conflict with beauty as I battle with the desire to look like someone else and the acceptance of my natural beauty.”

Higley also filled us in on the behind-the-scenes tricks of her photo manipulation. “For the stop-motion video, I set my camera on a timer to take a photo once every 7 seconds,” she explains to HG. “While posing for the photos, I thought about those phases I go through of wanting to look like someone else. I imagined what I would change about my body and pretended to push and pull, like I would in Photoshop. I then digitally manipulated each image to match what I am doing with my hands, so it would appear as if I was physically molding my body like clay. I ended up with 126 images.”

And the result? “It felt very therapeutic editing each photo as my appearance became unrecognizable and less human with every click,” she adds. “This project reminds me that these things I categorize as my flaws are what makes me human. And I love that.”

We love it too and we promise, you’ve never seen a self-portrait like this before:

Manipulated from Kelsey Higley on Vimeo.

The video was featured in the 101st Annual Student Exhibition at The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and received the Ben Whitney FJJMA Docent Award. With all the positive feedback she’s received, Higley is determined to continue examining the challenges women face through a photographic lens.

We are so excited to see Higley kick butt and take names in the art world. Her website is here, go forth and follow the adventures of this amaze artist!

Images via

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