Esther Honig: Make Me Beautiful

Blogger and journalist Esther Honig has shown, once again, that the standards of beauty vary across cultures, and around the world. In her project, “Before and After,” she worked with 40 people from 25 different countries and asked them to take an unaltered photo of her and make her beautiful. She has shared some of the resulting images, which are a reminder of how beauty is defined differently around the globe.

This project reminds of Jessica Simpson’s The Price of Beauty, in which she traveled to different parts of the world to explore what people consider to be beautiful. In The Price of Beauty, Jessica Simpson traveled to France, where she met Isabelle Caro, a model who shares her heartbreaking struggle with anorexia. (Isabelle passed away on November 17, 2010, at the age of 28, after struggling with anorexia since the age of 13.) Jessica also traveled to Uganda, where being overweight and even obese is considered to be beautiful. Women are often sent to fattening huts before their weddings, where they are forced to drink milk and ghee (clarified butter) to gain unhealthy amounts of weight. This is very different from the standards of beauty that we have in the US, where most people (especially women) are striving to reach an unattainable level of thinness (remember, it’s about being healthy, not thin!). When she visits Thailand, Jessica learns that white skin is considered beautiful, and many women will go to extreme lengths to whiten their skin. One woman disfigured herself when she bleached her skin. In the US, most people consider tan skin to be beautiful (just take a look at all of our tanning salons and orange celebrities), so this was another beauty ideal that differs from what we see in America. I actually got teased by my cousins when I was growing up, because I have fair skin and they are all tan. I was constantly told that I needed to tan, so it took me some time to embrace my white skin. And now I won’t even consider tanning – natural is best!

I’m always struck by the different ideals that people around the world have of what it means to be beautiful. True beauty, of course, lies within. Within Honig’s project, it’s interesting to see how some countries chose to stick with a more natural look, while others used of lots Photoshopping to give her darker eyebrows, makeup, extended eyelashes, and different facial features. What strikes you most about the Photoshopped images and Esther’s project?

Here is the original, unedited photo of Esther:

EstherHonig

Before and After: Unedited Photo of Esther Honig (all photos courtesy of Esther Honig)

And here are some of the images that she has received so far:

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Argentina

Before and After: Argentina

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Pakistan

Before and After: Pakistan

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Morocco

Before and After: Morocco

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-UnitedKingdom

Before and After: United Kingdom

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Philippines

Before and After: Philippines

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-SriLanka

Before and After: Sri Lanka

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-UnitedStates

Before and After: United States of America

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Vietnam

Before and After: Vietnam

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Serbia

Before and After: Serbia

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-India

Before and After: India

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Kenya

Before and After: Kenya

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Bangladesh2

Before and After: Bangladesh

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Chile

Before and After: Chile

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Philippines2

Before and After: Philippines

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Bulgaria

Before and After: Bulgaria

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Greece

Before and After: Greece

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Bangladesh3

Before and After: Bangladesh

Esther-Honig-Before-and-After-Beauty-Indonesia

Before and After: Inodnesia

*All photos courtesy of Esther Honig.

*I do not own the videos that I link to in this post.

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