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 Murfreesboro web 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 Murfreesboro web 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:
According to Argentina’s standards, a woman would ideally be very thin and large chested. Her skin was photoshopped to seem smooth and flawless. Her stomach flat and legs thin. This definitely seems a bit unrealistic for the average woman.
In China, they clearly see the beauty by the size of a woman. While they essentially photoshopped the original woman out of the picture, they made sure to keep a very large chest. China’s woman had an estimated BMI of 17 which is verging on anorexia. It’s a shame that this is the ideal standard of beauty in China.
While Colombia’s woman is smaller than the original, it’s refreshing to see they didn’t make her stick skinny. Her thighs are still touching and her stomach isn’t as flat as a board. They did make her skin look much smoother and more flawless. They also lengthened her hair and lightened it up to be a light brunette verging on red.
The Egyptian standard of beauty revolves around her authenticity to her culture. They photoshopped this woman to resemble the skin tone and hair style of an Egyptian woman. They sucked in her waist extremely and gave her the hips of a goddess. They significantly slimmed down her legs and gave her a beautiful hourglass figure.
Italy was the other country that thinned their model to extreme lengths. They also decided to part her hair down the middle and change her underwear to red. They decided to forgo the hot pick wedges and throw on some nude platform pumps. It seems to me they tried to make their model as sexy as possible in an unrealistic way.
The Mexican ideal woman has that Mexican glow, dark skin, a tight waist and slimmer legs. They gave her large hips and sucked her waist into about a size 0. They also died her hair much darker like a true Mexican ethnic woman. They seemed to stay rather authentic but gave their model an unrealistic body size.
The Netherlands clearly have a thing about clothing. They decided to completely change her outfit to a pink bathingsuit, black boots and died her hair bright red. They slimmed her down extremely and gave her little curves.
Peru’s model has a significantly different face structure. They gave her much thinner eyes and lengthened the size of her forehead. They darkened her skin slightly and gave her a tone stomach with large hips. They kept some size in her hips and still dropped some serious lbs.
The philippines like their models with much smaller heads and large chests. They toned her skin a little more pink than orange and have her a small hourglass shaped body. Her waist is significantly thinner and her legs are about a third of the size of the original.
Romania’s model isn’t as thin as some of the others but still felt necessary to give her a gap between her thighs. Her stomach is a little wider than the others but still seems much flatter than the original. They darkened her skin to give her a nice tan.
South Africa made their model much thinner. They significantly reduced the size of her legs and arms and flattened up her stomach. They gave her a slightly orange tone to her skin. Other than that, not much else was done.
Spain’s model is much less dramatic than the others. They returned the photo with the heaviest model. They kept her thighs on the larger side and didn’t crazy modify her stomach. The only thing they changed was smoothening her skin and giving her some thinner eyes.
Syria decided to give their model a face lift. They lengthened the size of her head and made her chest smaller along with her waist. They gave her large hips and nice sized thighs but still made sure they weren’t touching. They made her much paler and gave her some serious glow.
It looks like the UK didn’t change too much about the skin color or hair, but they did drastically reduce the size of the model. She’s looking very thin and has a much flatter stomach.
Like Italy, Ukraine felt the need to change up her style. In addition to making her much thinner, they gave her a full head of red hair and died her underwear and shoes a sexy red color. They also decided to give her some red nails to add flare. They made her pale in comparison to the original.
In the United States, an accentuated hourglass figure is the beauty standard. They gave her smooth flawless skin and large hips. They also photoshopped her face to look a little different and died her hair darker brown.
Venezuela clearly like their women with a full head of voluptuous hair. Additionally they lightened her skin and slimmed down her legs and her waist. They doubled or almost tripled the size of her chest. Looks like the hair isn’t the only thing they like voluptuous in Venezuela.
“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 Murfreesboro web 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.