07.02.141:18 PM ET

An Experiment in Beauty

A journalist asked 40 artists to make her “beautiful." The results are a fascinating kaleidoscope of global beauty ideals.

We all know the old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but one woman’s recent experiment puts the proverb in a whole new light. Journalist Esther Honig sent 40 artists from dozens of countries a photo of her head and shoulders. She asked them all to “make her beautiful.” Illustrating how beauty standards vary among cultures, the results she received range from barely retouched to extensively made up, including face slimming and the addition of a wig. On her website, Honig says the images “are intriguing and insightful in their own right; each one is a reflection of both the personal and cultural concepts of beauty that pertain to their creator.” She adds, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive.” To some, the experiment also demonstrates how unrealistic – and unsatisfying – it is to strive for an ideal in the first place.