Yesterday someone I follow on Twitter retweeted a link to a Cosmopolitan article. A young journalist had sent a photo of herself, with no makeup, to a bunch of Photoshoppers and asked them to “make me look beautiful.” If they weren’t sure what she meant, she said that they should “make her look like “a woman in one of their country’s fashion magazines.” (I could challenge the assumptions that fashion = beauty and requires makeup, but never mind, it was given as a reference point for the project and such a challenge is a whole ‘nother post.)
This article collects the initial results of her project.
And those results are quite interesting. As the article points out, most included light skin and blue or green eyes, showing “how euro-centric beauty ideals are around the world.” But apart from that, there are some interesting variations and flavours in regional ideas of beauty. Germany seems very avant-garde, for example. Images from some countries look more “natural” than others.
Most Photoshoppers focused on applying digital makeup and removing perceived imperfections (what is seen as an imperfection is interesting in itself). But the ones that stood out to me were the ones from the Philippines and the US, which went further than that. Okay, changing the hair is something that could go along with using makeup. But in the left-hand image from the US, the artist even changed the facial proportions. The result is that she is completely unrecognizable and looks like she’s about fourteen instead of twenty-four.
Make me look beautiful, she said. This may look like someone in a fashion magazine, but it’s no longer her. What does that say about ideals of beauty?