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- Airbrushing and retouching pictures is a common thing nowadays. Everybody knows that the images of models on magazine covers with pearly white teeth, perfect figures and shiny hair are visibly improved. Smartphones and cameras have modes that can, for instance, smooth out your face in pictures, and people do not think twice about posting selfies or creating online profiles showing better versions of themselves. We're a culture obsessed with perfection. But what does it really mean to be perfectly beautiful? These journalists decided to find out.
- Esther Honig, Marie Ospina and Priscilla Yuki Wilson sent pictures of themselves to photo editors around the world who promised to do whatever was necessary to make them beautiful. The results were quite surprising. Esther and Marie are both white and, although in most pictures the skin appears smoother and Marie's mole is missing, their skin colour is basically unchanged. In some pictures their eyes are bigger, in some they have heavy make-up or thicker eyebrows, but these are minor changes. To Marie's surprise, her face is still plump and double-chinned, her tousled hair still messy. So, while both of them consider themselves plain, the beautiful versions of themselves aren't much different from the original.
- The new photos of the third journalist, Priscilla Yuki Wilson, present a slightly different picture. Priscilla's features (eyes, nose, lips) are a mixture of black and Japanese which seems to make people unsure of how to judge her looks. As a result, most editors decided to 'fix' her and make her look more one than the other. There are pictures where her complexion is lighter her nose slimmer, her eyes wider to a point where she has difficulty recognizing herself at all.
- A closer analysis of the results of numerous such experiments reveals another interesting tendency: photo editors from countries with more homogeneous populations introduced more changes to the photos, especially to images showing people with mixed heritage. They seem to have very defined standards of beauty rooted in their cultures and wanted their models to resemble them. Editors from countries with more mixed populations, on the other hand, seemed to be happy to accept different kinds of beauty. And, fortunately, they're not the only ones.
- More and more women, including celebrities, rebel against the idea of promoting perfection. Models and actresses refuse to have their pictures in magazines retouched, even if it means visible cellulite or wrinkles on the cover of Glamour. The new message seems to be 'this is the real me and I'm proud of it'. We're all different and that's what makes us us. There's beauty in diversity and in being real.
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