The Complete Wedding Training System is Finally Here!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Featured Projects

‘Make Me Beautiful’ – Photoshop Series Examines Beauty Standards in 25 Countries

By Hanssie on June 26th 2014

‘Make me beautiful,’ was the request she sent out to 40 freelance Photoshop retouchers in 25 different countries around the world in an effort to examine the beauty standards in different cultures. Freelance journalist Esther Honig sent out an unaltered photograph of herself around the world after working on an assignment as a social media manager. One of her tasks introduced her to an international freelance site, Fiverr, a place where you can hire any one around the world for almost any task you could think of. While browsing the site, Esther noticed the abundance of people offering Photoshop skills and the idea of this series, named ‘Before & After,’ was born.

before-after-Esther-Hoenig-1

Ranging from $5 to $30 and with the only instruction to make her beautiful, Esther hoped that “each designer will pull from their personal and cultural constructs of beauty to enhance [the] unaltered image.” With a mix of amateur and professional Photoshop retouchers, there is clearly a variance in the quality of work in each portrait. If you look past that though, it is  truly fascinating to see the cultural differences in the nuances of makeup, hair, clothing and backgrounds from the various countries and what they define as ‘beautiful.’

What I’ve learned from the project is this: Photoshop [may] allow 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 illusive.

[REWIND: PHOTOSHOP TIPS: TWO SIMPLE WAYS TO CHANGE EYE COLOR IN 3 MINUTES]

Kenya

Kenya

Before-after-esther-hoenig-19

USA

Argentina

Argentina

Before-after-esther-hoenig-12

Israel

Germany

Germany

Phillipines

Philipines

Morocco

Morocco

USA

USA

Australia

Australia

Before-after-esther-hoenig-5

Bangladesh

Before-after-esther-hoenig-8

Chile

India

India

Before-after-esther-hoenig-17

Serbia

Before-after-esther-hoenig-18

U.K.

Before-after-esther-hoenig-16

Philippines

Before-after-esther-hoenig-15

Pakistan

You can see the entire set on Esther Honig’s website HERE.

CREDITS: Photographs by Esther Honig are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

[via Buzzfeed]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Barry Cunningham

    The grouping by country might be a little misleading. In the cases where there were more than one retoucher for a country, the results could be quite different.
    Interesting to see how many acquired completely new hair (or had it covered up completely).

    | |
  2. Ian Moss

    Although you could view this as a sort of sociological experiment, it might be unwise to draw too many conclusions from it. As has been already mentioned, these may not be representative of the cultures and countries of the retouchers – indeed there may not be such a thing as ‘representative’in this context. Any kind of conclusion drawn from it is almost certainly going to be very stereotypical.

    | |
  3. Sterling Steves

    If you had sent the image to 50 different amateurs retouchers in the US, you would havve gotten the same amount of variation I expect. There is a retouching forum on Model Mayhem where people give access to images where people try to hone their skills. People from all over the world do this and the results are very similar in variety.

    | |
  4. Michael Stagg

    I really think this experiment would have benefited if all the retouchers were of the same skill level, not necessarily “professionals” but at least all beginners, intermediates, etc. I will agree that all of the submitted images have a very distinct view of what is considered beautiful. While many will focus on the technique of each of the digital artists I think it’s more important to recognize that each one see’s the world differently and the difference is affected by locale, society and tradition.

    | |
  5. Christopher Rankin

    It’s a cool idea as a social and cultural experiment but I have to agree that the results really are rather lackluster.

    | |
  6. Dahlia Turnbull

    Through this test amongst people who do photoshop as a profession, they stay within the confines of beauty defined by what is online. This kind of study, helps me decide where I would want to live and understand the insight in cultures definitions of beauty.

    Awesome research and study, really hits the button!

    | |
  7. Santiago Montelongo

    Mexico is definitely missing!

    | |
  8. Ben Perrin

    Once I got over the bad retouching it was interesting to see how different people from different cultures saw the images. It was an interesting experiment. I think they all should’ve won a free pro retouching tutorial from Julia Kuzmenko or Michael Woloszynowicz to help them do it right next time.

    | |
  9. Jordan Buckway

    That’s interesting to see. And you can’t expect too much from Fiver haha.

    | |
  10. Servando Miramontes

    These were touched up in less than 3mins on Photoshop CC iPad BETA, right? Hahahahaha, Seriously, though… Prefer the original shot, but if I had to pick, Pakistan takes the cake.

    | |
  11. John Shaver

    Unfortunately this experiment loses almost all credibility because the retouching is so horrible. It would have been much better to pay 5 professional retouchers rather than so many amateurs.

    Heck, I’m sure she could have found 5 professional retouchers to do it pro bono or for a low price as part of her project in return for press and exposure.

    Great idea, very poor execution in my opinion.

    | |
  12. Mark Mirandilla

    thank you for including Philippines. cheers!!!

    | |
  13. Dave Kai Piper

    I would love a link to the RAW image !!

    | |
  14. Dave Kai Piper

    pretty amazing !

    | |
  15. Rambo Estrada

    Israel just whacked a set of man eyebrows on her. Ha ha

    | |
  16. James Polk

    I agree that the retouching is absolutely horrendous!

    | |
  17. Joe Martin

    this is a great idea when looking for a new retoucher

    | |
  18. Pye

    Haha, check out the ones on her site. I think the best one IMO is the Vietnam one, not half bad =) Wait wait, Italy is pretty good too!

    | |
  19. Pye

    This is so awesome, though I think it should be mentioned that none of these retouchers were “professionals” haha. At least I would hope =) LOL, nevermind, just read in the opening paragraph that these people were found on FIVER, haha. So clearly they aren’t pros, this is what $5 of retouch will buy you, haha. Pretty awesome study tho.

    | |
    • Kishore Sawh

      I agree, this is just a brilliant idea. I love the concept, and that these weren’t professional retouchers, probably adds to the validity of the average view of beauty in the corresponding location. Having a good understanding of the beauty concepts in the far east, and south Asia, i found those to be so particularly predictablem such as the highly lightened skin from Bangladesh, and lightened eyes from Pakistan. I like Kenyas most, but Morocco takes the cake – cracking me up.

      | |
    • Greg Faulkner

      LOL if they paid a fiver they were done haha

      | |
    • Greg Faulkner

      Hahaha, I just nearly wet myself laughing at this lot. Oh dear, the pink makeup on the Australian one hahaha. This is all gold

      | |
  20. tamás száraz

    For me it looks more like 1 retoucher was trying to do different versions of over retouching, and showing some typical stereotypes with exaggeration… India,USA,Austria..OMG. No retoucher (even beginners) would do something like this for real…

    | |
  21. Jamie Weston

    There’s something seriously wrong with people’s idea of beauty. They’ve all drastically altered (mostly for the worse) an otherwise attractive image.

    | |
    • Matt Walsh

      You have to expect results like that in an experiment like this. It’s not asking everyday people what they think of the girl, they asked retouchers what they would do. Of course retouchers are going to do something to it rather than say it’s perfect as is.

      | |
  22. Roberto Verdaguer

    Seriously some of the worst retouching I’ve ever seen in my life. I guess it makes for a good social experiment to get brand new retouchers who have no idea how to use the software to be representing their countries perception of beauty. It’s just drastically horrible examples in each of the final images. Literally horrible work.

    | |
  23. André Hostombe

    nice test with a interesting outcome :)

    | |