A few years ago, Journalist Esther Honig published a viral series of images showing how different countries around the world would retouch a portrait of a woman according to their beauty standards.
This is the original portrait that was sent out to 18 freelance designers in 18 countries around the world:
Here are the simple instructions that were given by the market agency Fractl, which was commissioned for this project:
Photoshop her form. The idea is to Photoshop and retouch this woman to make her more attractive to the citizens of your country. 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.
“We focused on female designers, as we wanted a woman’s view of what her culture finds attractive and to understand more about the pressures they face,” the project says. Here are the Photoshopped images that were sent back:
“The goal of this project is to better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures vary around the world,” the project says.
The experiment found that…
Some of the designers kept the woman looking like herself, while others made her look like a completely new person.
Some countries gave her an exaggerated hourglass figure, while others gave her an apparent BMI of 17.5, or near anorexic.
“Beauty cannot be judged objectively, for what one person finds beautiful or admirable may not appeal to another,” the experiment concludes. “And the range of depictions found in our study appears to confirm this notion.”
The team behind this project is planning to do future experiments to further explore perceptions of male and female beauty.