Journalist Checks Beauty Concept By Having Herself Photoshopped In 40 Countries

 before-after-title

Over the time, we’ve seen many here-is-a-picture-how-can-you-shop-it projects, but something sets Before & After apart. In this project, journalist Esther Honig took her unedited image and had it Photoshopped by 22 individuals so far.

Honing sent her image to about 40 retouch artists at varying levels from amateur to pro, and asked them to retouch her photo (seen right after the jump), with a simple single directive: “make me beautiful“. Contact came via several freelancing channels (most notably Fiverr) so work has been committed at rates between $5 and $30. This is pretty cheap for a pro retouch, but still the wide selection of skill and geographical locations  provides a window into the concept of beauty as it is perceived in various regions of the world.

Honig shares that:

In the U.S. Photoshop has become a symbol of our society’s unobtainable standards for beauty. My project, Before & After, examines how these standards vary across cultures on a global level….

… 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 elusive

Here is the original photos sent by Honig:

Original photo of  Esther Honig

Original photo of Esther Honig

and here are some of the resulting photos:

Philippines

Philippines

Italy

Italy

Serbia

Serbia

United-States

United-States

Sri-Lanka

Sri-Lanka

Vietnam

Vietnam

Ukraine

Ukraine

United-Kingdom

United-Kingdom

Greece

Greece

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Philippines

Philippines

Serbia

Serbia

Pakistan

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Chile

Chile

Morocco

Morocco

India

India

Kenya

Kenya

Indonesia

Indonesia

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Argentina

Argentina

Israel

Israel

[Before & After | Esther Honig]

  • http://www.amateurnikon.com/ AmateurNikon.com

    Apart from a couple of striking examples (such as the Moroccan one), I don’t see anything intrinsically connected with “how culture ‘A’ perceives beauty”. What I *do* see, however, is a universal attitude of creating something that isn’t there. Photoshop retouchers (like photographers, like most of us) are drowning in a media-produced visual cataclysm of spotless (indeed textureless) skins, blue eyes, pink lips, and flowing, shiny hair. For me, as a professional portrait photographer, retouching is meant only as a tool that translates a still photo into an image corresponding to the living & moving reality of the person you see in front of you. Here’s more about it: http://www.amateurnikon.com/2014/01/the-biggest-secret-about-editing.html

  • https://www.facebook.com/larry.blucher1 Larry Blücher

    Better to view here with the slideshow next to the original. http://www.estherhonig.com/#!before–after-/cvkn

  • http://wilcfry.com/ Wil Fry

    Is it odd that in every case I found the original the most beautiful? As a photographer, I generally “retouch” only for accuracy — removing a dust mote or occasionally a pimple or blotch (which is decidedly temporary).

    • echomrg

      not that odd, considering that most of the “retouching” is awful.

  • Mike Lambert

    This is Photoshop at its worst and completed by amateurs. The “Research” involved paying each Photo Editor $5 (yes thats five dollars) via the Fiverr web site. You get what you pay for, in this case nonsense, and not a reflection of cultural mores.

    • Yo

      Agreed. This is research into which country has the worst Photoshop skills

  • j

    the adjustments to skin tone are sort of interesting, but the rest is total amateur hour.

  • iceman600

    I would LOVE to see their versions to whose who gave negative feed backs at the retuched photos.

    • echomrg

      since what you wrote doesn’t actually make any sense i assume you’re suggesting that people commenting negatively about the (honestly awful) retouching couldn’t do any better.

      it’s a completely meaningless point, you don’t need to be good at retouching to tell an amateur’s work from something professionally done.

      furthermore any kind of “research” assuming that any kind of meaningful insight into photo retouching could be had from paying 5$ for a retouched photo is a complete waste of time.

      how much “work time” could 5$ buy from anyone not coming from a poor country?
      5 minutes? 10 minutes? what can be honestly done in 5 minutes?

  • em

    I think that this is a great idea, but the photoshopping is awful for even amateur level photoshoppers.

  • Mike

    simple single directive: “make me beautiful“

    I would have returned the original picture. :)