Journalist's Photoshop Project Illustrates Different Standards Of Beauty Around The World

| by Jonathan Wolfe

We all know Photoshop can be – and is – used to radically alter people’s appearances. A few months back, a video went viral showing how a Photoshop expert can drastically alter a person's appearance with just a few clicks.

Photoshop is often used to make people’s appearances align closer with a society’s “ideal” image of beauty. But, as this experiment by Kansas City-based journalist Esther Honig proves, this “ideal” appearance varies drastically around the world.

In a project titled “Before and After,” Honig sent a makeup-free picture of herself to 40 photo retouchers around the world. Her instructions were simple: “Make me look beautiful.”

Every retoucher sent Honig back an image drastically different both from her original picture and from the work of other Photoshop artists.

About the returned images, Honig says: “They are intriguing and insightful in their own right; each one is a reflection of both the personal and cultural concepts of beauty that pertain to their creator. Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive.”

Here's the original photo, along with a number of retouched images from the project:


About face: Esther Honig, 24, sent this unretouched portrait to participants in more than 25 countries with the request 'Make me look beautiful'


Make me blush: The designer from Australia gave her cheeks a rosy glow

Sri Lanka:

Mint condition: The first response Miss Honig received, from Sri Lanka, colored her eyes green


Think pink: The Argentina entry gave her iridescent lips and a lavender eye shadow


Red letter day: Another Philippines artist made her lips a bold crimson shade


Lighten up: An artist in Germany gave Miss Honig pale skin and auburn hair

United States:

American beauty: Miss Honig says the photo she received from the U.S. 'made me shriek'


World series: Miss Honig says, of all the entries she received from around the globe, the image from Morocco left her 'breathless'


The thick of it: An artist in India enhanced her eyebrows


Pearls of wisdom: The response from Chile added jewelry to Miss Honig's picture