The Projections of Perfection: Across Borders project sought to explore the meaning of ideal beauty and the potential unrealistic ideals held by men and women, and in doing so examine how perceptions of beauty vary from country to country.
Female graphic designers from around the globe were asked to photoshop an image of a woman provided to them in a manner which would make her “in their opinion, more attractive to other citizens of their country.”
These were the instructions given to the designers:
“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.”
The study included 18 designers from different countries who altered the original image to fit their culture’s beauty ideals.
While some of the altered photos remained quite similar to the original provided, many were so drastically edited they bore little resemblance to the original at all.
“Drastic changes in hair colour, attire, and waist-to-hip ratio were common,” the study reported.
While in North, South and Central America exaggerating an hourglass figure was common, in many European and Asian nations the model was rendered excessively thin.
When placed side-by-side it becomes glaringly obvious that beauty ideals are not some biological standard, but rather greatly influenced by our cultural and social environments. Thus it seems that if we are able to modify the social environment in regards to beauty standards we could help the many women who struggle with eating disorders or undergo dangerous elective surgeries in order to achieve what they perceive as perfection.