The Before and After Project: An Explicit Example of How the Standards of Beauty Differ Around the World

before and after

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so says the old adage. “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it,” is also another such proverb that reiterates how beauty is relative. Missouri-based journalist, Esther Honig, a 24-year-old from Kansas City decided to see how these sayings manifest themselves in reality. Honig recently solicited the help (and perspective) of people in more than 25 countries. They were given explicit permission to manipulate an image of herself.

Bangladesh
Bangladesh

The photo was like a blank canvass: Honig appears hair tied back, bare shoulders, and no makeup whatsoever. With the help of freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, Honig contacted close to 40 individuals from countries ranging from the Philippines to the Ukraine. They were to work on the base photo of herself with one singular order: “Make me beautiful.”

Italy
Italy

Some of the individuals were professionals at photo manipulation while others were merely hobbyists. What Honig yielded from these diverse individuals show both personal and cultural standards of beauty that differ from culture to culture around the world.

Pakistan
Pakistan

The collection is called the Before and After project. Honig came away with some conclusions after the project, saying, “They are intriguing and insightful in their own right; each one is a reflection of both the personal and cultural concepts of beauty that pertain to their creator. 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.”

U.K.
U.K.

The project also substantiates how today’s people have an insatiable appetite for manipulating what is God-given, whether physically by going under the knife for some ‘enhancement’ or through less invasive photo manipulation as exemplified by this series. Despite being an attractive woman, nary a country left the base photo of Honig untouched, with the exception of Australia perhaps.

Ukraine
Ukraine

See Honig’s interesting experiment over at her website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I’m talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.