Esther Honig, a 24-year-old freelance journalist from Kansas City, put the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to the test with this fascinating project titled Before & After. Using freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, Honig sent an unaltered photo of herself to over 40 Photoshop enthusiasts in 25 different countries and made the simple request: “Make me beautiful.”
The results were astounding. Each freelancer, whether an amateur or a professional, put a unique spin on the original image, drawing from both cultural influences and personal aesthetic preferences. “Seeing some jobs for the first time made me shriek… Other times images, like the one from Morocco, took my breath away because they were far more insightful than I could have expected,” Honig told BuzzFeed. In all the images, the journalist's skin was smoothened and flyaway hairs were tamed, but some of the changes were far more dramatic. Jewelry and clothing was added, her eye color was altered, bone structures were altered, and skin tone was lightened or darkened subtly.
The collection of images not only reveals Photoshoppers' personal preferences as well as the standards of beauty in individual countries, but also launches an interesting conversation on the use of digital manipulation in promoting unattainable beauty standards across the globe. Honig says, “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 illusive.”