First, it was Esther Honig's groundbreaking, viral Photoshop experiment that made us question our perception of beauty. Then Priscilla Yuki Wilson shook up the conversation with her Photoshop experiment on biracial beauty. Now Bustle editor Marie Southard Ospina has taken the discussion of global beauty and turned it on its head.
Ospina's twist on the Photoshop experiment is that she's a plus-size woman. She writes frequently about body positivity on her personal blog, MiggMag, as well as for Bustle, and she was curious to see how photo editors from around the world would transform her image according to their (and their cultures') perceptions of what is beautiful. It is a sad truth that despite that prevalence of obesity in many countries, those who are overweight are often perceived negatively. "Stereotypes include, but are not limited to: laziness, selfishness, stupidity, naiveté and even a lower socioeconomic class," Ospina reported, "but I'm also aware that the notion of 'thin is the only beautiful' doesn't permeate the entirety of the world." She received 21 touched-up images from Photoshop experts, and the results shocked her.
When she initially embarked on this project, Ospina assumed that all the graphic designers would try to "fix" her weight and bone structure, but that was not the case. In fact, she reached out to three different Icelandic Photoshop experts, and they all refused the project, stating that they were against using the program in this way and only used it to touch up minor flaws and correct lighting. With the images returned to her, it was a challenge for Ospina to find common changes among all the images save for transformations to hair and makeup. While some did dramatically change her appearance or even add clothes to her image, Ospina feels mostly hopeful that, based on the predominant lack of what she calls body snark, natural beauty is making a comeback. But above all, she's learned beauty truly means different things to different people. "If there's one thing this experiment has solidified to me, it is that trying to live by one standard of beauty is futile." Read on to see her transformed images!