What exactly is beautiful? I saw this on Buzzfeed a few weeks ago http://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleyperez/global-beauty-standards#119d87. It is about a freelance journalist, Esther Honig, who did an experiment by sending a picture of her bare face to over 25 countries and asked them to “make [her] look beautiful through Photoshop.She wanted to find out how the “cultural concept of beauty might have influenced the choices [the editors] have made”.The results she got back were very interesting and I think it ties in perfectly with our readings this week.
These pictures display a variety of takes on beauty which differs from country to country. Some put on some eye shadow and lipstick for her and some gave her a different hairstyle. The color of her skin, cheekbones, hairstyle and eyebrow shape have been altered. Honig pointed out that for the majority of the pictures that came back, her skin has been lighten which she believes to be because of “globalisation and eurocentric beauty values”. But I dont think this is all to it, otherwise, this collage of her faces would look more similar to each other than what we see now. Virtually all editors went beyond just adjusting skin tone but also her cheekbones, eyes shape and eyebrows shape. Even editors form the same countries presented a different idea of beauty. The two Indias and the two both differs in skin tone, hairstyle and attire.
Look at India for example, Honig’s face looks darker than her original photograph. If the ideal beauty for all cultures is to look “white”, why has her skin tone been darkened? As Ayu Sarawati said, the “desire fro “whiteness” is not the same as desire for Causasian whiteness” (15).
In the original picture, there is no visible piece of clothing or accessories however some pictures came back having edited clothes and accessories on her. The response from Morocco, giving Honig as hijab, has brought in a new element of beauty – religious custom and Serbia giving her body paint, a cultural custom. This implies that beauty is not only about having a “pretty” face. In Ginetta Candelario’s “Dominican Hair Culture” and the film “Good Hair” it is the hair that plays a big part ones idea of beauty.
So I wonder – what the results would hve been like if Honig asked the photoshoppers to make her look naturally beautiful, without any use of makeup or had she sent them a picture of her whole body? Would one country make her fuller, with wider hips and bigger breasts while another reduces her size even more? I think yes.