June 28, 2014

One woman's photograph, photoshopped in 25 different countries, following the instruction "Make me beautiful."

An interesting project, with fascinating results, somewhat skewed by the time and skill the different photo editors put into it, but you do get some interesting variations, and not just the different levels of makeup that are deemed "beautiful."

Strangely, the most alien image is the one from...
... the United States.

Philippines and Argentina are laughable. Germany continues to scare me. The nicest one is from Romania.

40 comments:

Paco Wové said...

Your link is waaaaaaay messed up.

Anonymous said...

I can see her clavicles standing out clearly under her skin, and to me that says "pathologically thin." She needs to raise her BMI a bit.

Ann Althouse said...

Link fixed. sorry.

Michael K said...

The US is obviously the daughter Obama wanted.

traditionalguy said...

Ditto. Romania.

ALP said...

I am most intrigued by the images where little was done...just a little color to the lips, etc. I'd be interested in analyzing the images those against the ones where much was added.

Also - were the Photoshoppers men or women?

Bruce Hayden said...

I see what you mean with the Germans doing a scary job. And, I found it interesting that one (I believe Muslim) country inserted coverings over her non-visible breasts. And, then one of the later one badly painted on jewelry over her picture.

eddie willers said...

I would say Italy is the "best".

The culture creeps in enough that she looks like Caesar's wife (who is above suspicion)

YoungHegelian said...

They should have put some music to the link. How about the Rolling Stones' 'Tart me up."

Bob R said...

I agree with Romainia for the eyes and skin tone. But I'd go for the Ukrainian hair. (You can't tell if hair is Photoshopped or Beautyshopped.)

Bob R said...

And it really stacking the deck to find someone in the US who is that bad at Photoshop.

Saint Croix said...

I vote for Israel.

Mary Beth said...

There were two from the US. People magazine picked the other one to show. http://www.people.com/article/beaty-standards-photoshop-esther-honig

Joe said...

Half of those look like either incompetence or treating it as a joke (Australia is clearly a joke.)

David said...

Lovely girl in nearly every configuration. I agree that the US is the strangest. Whoever did that one reshaped her face and tried to make her race ambiguous. Of course for the US, as for all those countries, it wholly depends on who was chosen to do the work.

JT said...

I'd suggest that this "study" is really skewed by the caliber/talent of the people doing the photo manipulation.

She asked people who frequent fiverr.com to do the work, a site where the entire premise is to get work done on the cheap at prices starting at $5.

I don't know any truly professional artists designers, etc. (with a good amount of experience under their belts) who hang out on that site looking to sell their work for $5 because their abilities and skill are worth more than that.

What you're going to get on that site are amateurs or people just starting out in their careers who need more experience using the tools of the trade.

That said, Argentina gets my vote for the amount of work done to the image vs. the end result. That's pretty high-caliber work.

The U.S. entry is an abomination. Terrible job of photo manipulation. It's heavy handed, and is in no way an improvement.

Anglelyne said...

Italy, Venezuela, Romania OK. Don't see what's particularly "scary" about the German effort. Most of 'em look like "junior high school girl's first awkward adventures with cheap cosmetics". A couple suggest there was a translation fail - "make me uglier".

As for the U.S. one, yeah - what the hell was that all about? Photoshopper some hikikomori basement-dweller who's never seen a non-animated female? Gollum's prom date.

Biff said...

For some reason, that article pegged my bullshit detector.

Anonymous said...

India 'shopped the collar bone away.

Does this indicate they prefer their women fleshy?

There is another pic of her online from the US that shows longer, brown hair and typical US sorority girl makeup (scroll to bottom left). I was surprised at how quickly I warmed to it.

I find Greece's colors really nice even though it's "overly done" according to my usual POV. I enjoyed several that just made her eyes pop a bit.



David said...

I see what she's going for and I think she gets it. The British one, in particular, is British in a very subtle but surprisingly clear way. But I think we have to suspect, too, that some of these editors are just bad at Photoshop.

MathMom said...

United States actually gave her a nose job. Couldn't get the eyebrows to match, though.

rhhardin said...

They all look the same to me.

Except the UK one should be more pasty white.

It's the crayola color corresponding to Indian red for coloring Englishmen.

Freeman Hunt said...

Worst photoshopping ever. It looks like most of them were using MS Paint. The United States one in no way represents our ideals of beauty.

This is framed as showing us that there is great variation in ideals of beauty around the world. I disagree. I think it shows that there are only very minor variations.

Freeman Hunt said...

A lot of them look like they were done by the same incompetent person.

CB9 said...

I think the U.S. one was horrible. It really infantilized her face. Making it rounder (less long) which had the effect of making the eyes appear larger. Then they made the nose much smaller.

Bob R said...

I think the concept of the experiment is interesting, but it's poorly executed.

One poor aspect is the failure to explore language. Note that none of us who chose favorites used the word "beautiful." For instance, Althouse called the Romanian version the "nicest." How would the results (of a well executed experiment) differ if you replace "Make me look beautiful" with "Make me look nice" (or attractive or elegant)? I think you'd get very different results. I also think you'd get different results in different cities in the US, so actually doing this right would be very expensive.

TML said...

Shitty photoshop work all around, actually. She's already damned beautiful. Just retouching was all that was needed.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Morocco caught me by complete surprise, but a very pleasant surprise.

Romania and the UK are in the running. But Morocco is unique in a way that the others are not. Perhaps its the contrasting color of the headscarf.

David said...

I call her beautiful, Bob R. That is a beautiful woman in those photos (which may be why she set up the whole scheme in the first place.)

Phil 3:14 said...

Saw this earlier. I wondered why no one changed the sex nor the color.

Limited.

Saint Croix said...

I would pay money to see Israel and the UK in a mud wrestling tub.

Anthony said...

JT - a friend who works as a retoucher complained, at length, about the very issue you talk about. The photoshopping is really badly done.

Anonymous said...

From IMDB:

Jeff Spicoli: Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.

Roger Sweeny said...

Am I weird because I like the unphotoshopped picture best, "uneven" coloring and all?

jaed said...

Most of these are pretty bad technically.

I noticed that most of them didn't do anything with her uneven hairline, which is probably the first thing a Photoshop artist would do, and few of them narrowed her neck, which is the second thing a Photoshop artist would do. (The Argentina picture does narrow her neck but does it so drastically and asymmetrically - the left side is much more affected than the right - that it looks unhuman.) Almost half of them don't even get rid of the bags under her eyes.

tim maguire said...

The US portrait was done at a mall in Georgia. The Australians made her a prostitute. The most beautiful is the first--her actual face.

Rusty said...

She's a pretty girl anyway and does need much of an improvement. I got a kick out of most of the male dominated cultures,(muslim) put a Groucho mustache over each eye.

paul a'barge said...

Why this linked article is complete bullsh*t - virtually all the photoshopping is ... wait for it ... applied makeup.

Yep. Not photoshop. Applied makeup.

You have just consumed crap.

Tibore said...

I have trouble seeing that this signifies anything truly profound about national differences. Not if only one person per country is set up to be representative of a given nation's attitudes.

To me, this is nothing more than an attempt to conduct pop psychology. The hypothesis is indeed testable, but the actual undertaking is so superficial that the results are next to meaningless. It's far more accurate to say that it's a wordless survey on what 40 different photo editors believe constitute their country's standards for beauty than to actually tag the works as representative of a given country's sense of aesthetic appeal. It certainly doesn't justify drawing any larger-scale lessons regarding cultural aesthetic sense from it, not when it's done that superficially with that little definition, rigor, or diversity.

Pop psych, pop sociology, pop science, pop epistemology. That's all this is, with all the depth that "pop" implies.

lattimore said...

Some of these guys need their photoshop licenses revoked.