Perceptions of Perfection: One Woman Photoshopped to 18 Beauty Standards

Curators’ Corner

Perceptions of Perfection: One Woman Photoshopped to 18 Beauty Standards

Beauty is a growingly prevalent topic of debate. At the intersection of social media, digital image manipulation and consumer culture is a global eyebrow raise to how we view each other.

The phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” doesn’t quite close the discussion anymore. Take for instance Esther Honig’s viral 2014 series, Before & After. Honig garnered wide acclaim for her project that saw 27 artists from 27 countries Photoshop a woman’s portrait to “make her look beautiful.” The results were telling of what she described as “our unattainable standards of beauty.”

Now, UK medical website Superdrug Online Doctor has taken Honig’s concept a step further into the realm of body image, an equally fervid subject. Superdrug enlisted 18 freelance designers in 18 countries to edit a woman’s full-length portrait.

“Photoshop her form. The idea is to Photoshop and retouch this woman to make her more attractive to the citizens of your country,” the instructions read. “We are looking to explore how perceptions of beauty change across the world. Multiple designers are involved. You can modify clothing, but her form must be visible. No nudity. All other changes, including those to her shape and form, are up to you.”

Here’s the original portrait:


And here are the results:

Argentina_tagged China_tagged Colombia_tagged Egypt_tagged Italy_tagged Mexico_2_tagged Netherlands_tagged Peru_tagged Phillippines_tagged Romania_tagged Serbia_tagged South-Africa_tagged Spain_tagged Syrua_tagged UK_tagged Ukraine_tagged USA_tagged venezuela

You’ll notice that some versions exaggerate the hip and waist features, while some offer a more slender figure. Meanwhile, others put more of an emphasis on hair color and facial features.

“Widely held perceptions of beauty and perfection can have a deep and lasting cultural impact on both women and men,” Superdrug’s site says. “The goal of this project is to better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures vary around the world”

All in all, the project is an eye-opening illustration of just how culturally influenced beauty has become.