Beauty is both biological and cultural — and one can argue that each ethnicity has its own “ideal” versions of beauty. For example, while the U.S. may place thin models on a pedestal, other countries view the plus-sized body as far more attractive.
An online pharmacy called Superdrug Online Doctors aimed to explore these different cultural ideas of beauties and used the same photoshopped image of a woman to do so. The project, called Perceptions of Perfection, spans 18 countries — including Mexico, Peru, the Netherlands, and Ukraine — and used 18 designers to alter the original stock photo into what they believed their country's "ideal" version of beauty was. Click on the slideshow to see the results.
The original image used in the project was a stock photo from Photoshop. The designers were able to play with the size of her waist, her hair, face, and even shoe choice.
Interestingly, the project had some difficulties in finding designers in certain countries. Some designers weren’t interested in the project due to the amount of skin shown in the photos, and other countries made it difficult to locate designers through job boards.
The 18 designers were only given these instructions: “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 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.”
While the project aimed to be as diverse as possible, we wonder why no other skin types aside from white were represented — or perhaps why designers weren’t given the option to adjust skin tone.
Many of the photoshopped women vary significantly from the others, and it's interesting to see how body image compares in different countries. "Some designers in North, South, and Central American countries produced an exaggerated hourglass figure; others in European and Asian nations chose to render her so thin," the Superdrug press release states.
"Widely held perceptions of beauty and perfection can have a deep and lasting cultural impact on both women and men," the press release states. "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 pharmacy decided to estimate what these "ideal" women would weigh in real life, so they ran a survey in which participants guessed the weight of each woman in the images. They averaged the estimated BMIs and pounds, and found that China's ideal woman was the skinniest (102 pounds), while Spain's weighed the most, at 153 pounds.
Do these images comply with a general idea of beauty in your country? Perhaps there is no such thing as a cultural "ideal" of beauty, and maybe these photos prove how ridiculous of an idea it is to try to encapuslate that.
"While beauty can come in many forms, and we suspect that people will forever chase these assorted ideals of perfection, Superdrug Online Doctor commissioned this study to explore how such ideals vary across borders," the press release states.
Most of the chosen designers were females, as the project “wanted a woman’s view of what her culture finds attractive and to understand more about the pressures they face.” However, four of them were men who received input from other females.
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