In 2014, journalist Esther Honig created a fascinating project titled Before & After, where she asked over 40 Photoshop enthusiasts in 25 different countries to “make her beautiful.” She sent them an unadulterated photo of herself, and the results were astounding. Her appearance changed drastically based on the standards of beauty in that particular culture. Inspired by this project, UK-based Superdrug Online Doctor asked graphic designers–11 women and eight men–in 19 different countries to transform a New York-based photographer into their version of a culturally-attractive man.
Superdrug calls their endeavor Perceptions of Perfection, and they created it, in part, to prove that the desire for the “perfect body” transcends gender. “Fueled in part by the media and popular culture,” they write, “men around the world may feel even more body image–related pressure than women do–pressure to be stronger or slimmer or more muscular.” Through their project, they want to empower all people to “prioritize health above appearance, and to promote body confidence around the world.”
According to Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, Perceptions of Perfection highlights a growing male issue. “Our own research found that 40% of men in the UK felt pressure from television and magazines to have a ‘perfect' body and this has negative effects on how they view themselves and others.”
Like Before & After, the results of the manipulated portraits offer interesting insight on the similarities and differences of societal standards across the world. Some designers transformed the original man into a completely different person by changing his skin tone, face shape, and hairstyle. One graphic designer even fashioned a half-sleeve tattoo while another changed his clothing. But no matter how subtle the alterations may be, this man looks noticeably different in every image.
Superdrug began Perceptions of Perfection last year, highlighting female beauty standards. Check out the results from that study.
These are all of the submissions from around the world:
Original image credit: NYPhotoNY, Self-Portrait.