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This Woman Had Her Face Photoshopped
June 25, 2014 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Esther Honig, a freelance journalist based out of Kansas City, sent an unaltered photograph of herself to more than 40 Photoshop aficionados around the world. “Make me beautiful,” she said, hoping to bring to light how standards of beauty differ across various cultures. (SLBF)
posted by josher71 (141 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is really interesting but I wish they hadn't sent the USA ones to one of those places that does photos of child beauty pageant contestants.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on June 25 [75 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is terrific, but it's a bit skewed by the relative quality of the Photoshoppers. That or Australia is big into Bozo the Clown and nothing else.
posted by yerfatma at 12:45 PM on June 25 [60 favorites]


It's an interesting experiment, but she could have found much better photoshop artists. I can tell from some of the pixels and seeing quite a few shops in my time.
posted by Mooski at 12:46 PM on June 25 [67 favorites]


What is with the skin tone from the Germany one? She looks recently deceased. Yet another impossible beauty standard?
posted by Conspire at 12:46 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Oh god men can't do makeup.
posted by sukeban at 12:46 PM on June 25 [66 favorites]


Germany wants you to know that true beauty comes from diving into a tank of white-out. Her cheeks are producing Star Trek lens flare in that one.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:47 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


I agree with yerfatma; this is a really great idea, but it would be so much better if she'd been able to afford the magazine-quality Photoshop artists from each place.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:47 PM on June 25 [17 favorites]


I am not proud of my country today.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:48 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'd wager none of these were done by fashion industry pros just on the basis that none appeared to have moved her left eye down a bit to make her face more symmetrical. I was expecting examples of that, and cheekbone alterations, neck stretching, nose en-smallening, etc. Not this My First Coloring Book stuff.
posted by komara at 12:48 PM on June 25 [81 favorites]


Great, great concept.

Poor execution. Some of the PS "aficionados" are just crappy at their hobby. Would be more interesting if this were professionals doing this for each country's beauty magazines or something like that.
posted by dios at 12:48 PM on June 25 [15 favorites]


Also in a normal conversation I'd worry that by saying, "She looks better without makeup" I'm coming across as some sort of white knight or pandering, but in this specific conversation all that means is that I find human beings more attractive than Bizarro constructs.
posted by komara at 12:50 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


Although I'm mildly impressed by the 'shoppers who cleared a bit her complexion while not ending plasticky looking and kept the makeup understated like this one (Bangladesh) or this one (Israel).
posted by sukeban at 12:50 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


The left-hand shot from the USA looks remarkably like Adore Delano.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:52 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


komara: exactly. Also, I'm shocked more of them didn't fix the flyaways in her hair.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:53 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Maybe she should have paid more than one fiver. A tenner or a twentier might work out better next time.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:54 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


The tag of photoshopwhoa has rarely been more fitting than with this article.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:56 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with the US photoshoppers?!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:57 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


they all look like the covers of self-published e-books.
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on June 25 [56 favorites]


I the US ones made me yelp a little bit and shove my chair back from my desk.

Interesting project.
posted by rtha at 12:59 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


The lefthand one from the Philipines reminds me of a roommate I had years ago, and when he'd dress (not very believably) in drag. The two US ones..... oh for cryin' out loud, the US ones: the left one is just bad, and the right one made me think "Lolita!"
posted by easily confused at 12:59 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


So, I guess the takeaway is hire photoshoppers from Israel?

Honestly, with that one, I had to open it up in another window and compare it to the original to be sure that there was actually a difference. She looks the same just a little bit prettier.

Most of the rest are disasters. The Australia and Chile ones particularly.
posted by 256 at 12:59 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


I feel like the point of having her hair up was to make it easy to replace, and yet barely any of them did that, which ends up making them very same-y. Same with having her shoulders bare. Only a few of the retouchers really got it.
posted by smackfu at 1:02 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


What is with the skin tone from the Germany one?

In that photo she looks like someone I know whom my male friends routinely describe as the most beautiful person in their social circle, maybe with a * touch * less lividity.
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:03 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with the US photoshoppers?!

Good ones don't work for $5.
posted by smackfu at 1:04 PM on June 25 [28 favorites]


My personal vote for Most Disaster: the middle one from India where they took away her collarbones. Nope, no structural support under this bag of flesh! It's just a coathanger for shoulders and you don't want to see the rest.
posted by komara at 1:04 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I don't know it's hard to pick Most Disaster. The US ones were truly horrible though.
posted by sweetkid at 1:10 PM on June 25


The original, unaltered photo is terrible due to the bad lighting. But otherwise, she looks quite pretty without the makeup, though the Israel one does a good job of demonstrating how makeup can enhance features.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Well, if this project has demonstrated anything, it's that you shouldn't hire a photoshop "artist" from Fiverr.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:10 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Congrats to the USA for being the only country that made me laugh out loud with that second entry.
posted by yeti at 1:11 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


I really like the one from Pakistan. Like they did something cool with her eyes.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:11 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


... and the longer I look at it.... the first entry as well.
posted by yeti at 1:11 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


This Woman Had Her Face Photoshopped

Will I believe what happened next?
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:12 PM on June 25 [28 favorites]


The fact that the US photoshoppers were obviously trolling makes me look at the others with more suspicion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:13 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


'Before and After' site here.
posted by mazola at 1:16 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's a really good concept, but only really works if you get the top pros in every country.
posted by mumimor at 1:16 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Apparently these people are Photoshop aficionados the way John Belushi was a cocaine aficionado.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:21 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I guess it already helps that she's very good-looking, too.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:22 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


I think that this is more interesting -- and accurate -- as an analysis of global labor costs than Photoshop skills (or even conceptions of beauty). Once I thought of it that way, the crazy US ones made a bit more sense.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 1:22 PM on June 25 [58 favorites]


In addition to the coloring problems (skin tone and blush), I see lots of badly photoshopped eyebrows. It's one thing to clean up stray hairs, but many of the eyebrows look just plain painted on.
posted by immlass at 1:26 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to see which entrants did, and didn't, erase the under-eye contour completely, making Honig look to varying degrees like a vengeful space alien with hemispherical eyeballs.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:30 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Evidently the American photoshoppers were recruited from /b/.

Also, I kept scrolling down, expecting a version with mustache, goatee and devil horns.

I wish she had sent me this picture to photoshop. I would have removed that dot from her shoulder, just to stay within the guidelines of the project, and returned it otherwise unretouched, FOR THE WIN!
posted by valkane at 1:30 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


My favorites were the ones that did the same thing I would have: run the healing brush over the most obvious skin blemishes, adjust saturation, brightness and contrast, and go to lunch.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:35 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


I agree with yerfatma; this is a really great idea, but it would be so much better if she'd been able to afford the magazine-quality Photoshop artists from each place.

Yeah I do retouching for magazines and all of these are completely awful. Interesting idea, terrible execution, internet PS hobbyists != retoucher.
posted by bradbane at 1:38 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


As others have said, I hope the USA ones reflect the accidental choice of Photoshoppers; others had quirks, but those were the ones most unnatural and scary. That said, I thought the UK one was bland, hard and cold.
posted by raygirvan at 1:38 PM on June 25


I thought the UK one was bland, hard and cold.

I assumed that was the British standard of beauty.
posted by Area Man at 1:39 PM on June 25 [14 favorites]


I thought the UK one was bland, hard and cold

I assumed that was the British standard of beauty.


Traditionally that's the British standard of cuisine.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:41 PM on June 25 [62 favorites]


Yeah, this could have been a really amazing project if all the work was high quality. too bad she doesn't have rich parents to help her get a leg up in the cutthroat art world. she should apply for a grant or something and re-do it with high end work.
posted by scose at 1:42 PM on June 25



All I want to do is wax her eyebrows.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:46 PM on June 25


I like the dots from Serbia. Maybe scratch-off lottery ticket? If she wants to keep going as a radio journalist, she might want to try something with sound next time--ProTools around the world.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:47 PM on June 25


Welp, it's no Photoshop Phriday.
posted by echocollate at 1:49 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


The "rich parents" comment is kind of weird but I googled her and she's a pretty interesting person, a young journalist out of Kansas City - she's a journalist, not an artist. "Cutthroat art world" doesn't really apply.
posted by sweetkid at 1:49 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


North of the Wall:
http://imgur.com/Z4KhrUx

Why yes, I am a US photoshopper.
posted by Balna Watya at 1:53 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


What, none from Canada?

The Ukraine photo is really stunning.
posted by orange swan at 1:54 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


So, I guess the takeaway is hire photoshoppers from Israel?

Your going to want to hire from a Photoshop kibbutz in Jaffa. The independent photoshoppers in Haifa are notorious for using unpaid interns to do gigs like this, while the Jerusalem photoshopping black market is likely to send you a completely different photo and when you complain they just scream at you "It's YOU this is WHAT YOU WANTED YES? I MAKE YOU PRETTY! Cain o lo? MASPEAK L'YOM EKHAD!"
posted by maxsparber at 1:57 PM on June 25 [15 favorites]


Ten years of Hebrew and all I have ever been able to do with it is make a joke about Photoshoppers in Israel.
posted by maxsparber at 1:57 PM on June 25 [49 favorites]


Canada.
posted by mazola at 1:59 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Quick! Someone make a GIF!
posted by odinsdream at 2:04 PM on June 25


when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.

I don't know if that's a cringe-worthy sentence or a sharp one.

Also, there is nothing wrong with her eyebrows.
posted by sageleaf at 2:06 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


You folks talking about Germany are making me self-conscious. Describing me as "pale" is quite charitable.
posted by Justinian at 2:11 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


My family uses the more accurate description of "boiled chicken".
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


There are some terrible photoshoppers in this world, and she found a good number of them. The creepy award goes to the undertaker in Germany, though, with a close second to the US for the child pageant look.

I don't spend much time with fashion magazines -- is there a big difference in how they handle photo retouching between countries?
posted by Dip Flash at 2:15 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


The execution is not perfect, but I was expecting a Scouse Brow on the UK one and was not entirely disappointed. Possibly do the same with artists who understand how makeup works, and no bone structure altering photoshop allowed?
posted by ikalliom at 2:17 PM on June 25


Also, there is nothing wrong with her eyebrows.

FTFY. And, on top of questionable 'shopping skills, that's pretty much the problem right there. She looks like a fashion model on an off day; aside from extreme modifications, what is there to do but add makeup and shape the eyebrows?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]




Trying to figure out the reasoning behind the US entry that decided to change her eyes to a 45° angle. WTF.

Also in addition to actually hiring pros, can't help but feel this would be better if the original photo was genericized - remove hair, perhaps make it black and white, so that artists would be able to do their own thing more. As it is, this is going to be the artist's idea of beauty as applied to a white Midwestern American; a more generic photo could lead to wider interpretation (easier to make the face look like any number of ethnic groups, etc).
posted by caution live frogs at 2:32 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Kenya's bright eyeshadow colours, are those typical of Kenyan women?
posted by quiet earth at 2:33 PM on June 25


My personal vote for Most Disaster: the middle one from India where they took away her collarbones.

I think she's beautiful, very striking but in a subtle way if that makes sense. But what I was wondering most was whether any countries would photoshop out her prominent collarbones. To me that's a sign of being very thin and I was curious if some "beauty standards" would necessitate making her look curvier. So it's interesting to me that apart from that one from India they were pretty much left alone, apart from softening them slightly at the shoulders in one or two.

It suggests to me that skintone, eyebrows, makeup etc might differ in desirability from place to place, but overall thin wins. (At least for the individuals doing the photoshopping who probably assumed that no woman would consider "make me beautiful" to equate to "make me fatter".)
posted by billiebee at 2:35 PM on June 25


Make her more beautiful? How about with hat and dog?
posted by Mchelly at 2:40 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


What is with the skin tone from the Germany one? She looks recently deceased. Yet another impossible beauty standard.

On the contrary, this is achievable by literally everyone.
posted by brundlefly at 2:42 PM on June 25 [23 favorites]


If nothing else, this proves that the prevalence of shitty shooping all around the globe can bring us together.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:42 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


the individuals doing the photoshopping who probably assumed that no woman would consider "make me beautiful" to equate to "make me fatter"

Well, I'm not so sure. This is why I think the project hasn't really reached its full potential with these photoshoppers... because they are working at a pretty amateur level, we can't assume that everything we're seeing is their deliberate, best-effort, picture of beauty. It may be that they lack the skills, or the time, to bother with changing her collarbones or other shapes. Some of these are pretty slapdash, "use the lips-and-eyebrows stamp and put some blush on the cheeks" jobs.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:47 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Tough audience--over 90% of the comments are negative/critical/etc. I am going to stick with it is an interesting idea, I have no skills in photo-shopping and would guess she had a fairly limited budget. Actually, i thought her natural beauty was best illustrated in the one from Morocco.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:51 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


The Australia one reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Homer invents the makeup shotgun and shoots Marge in the face with it. "HOMER! You've got it set on whore!"
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:54 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I don't think people are criticizing the idea; the idea is quite interesting. But people are rightly criticizing the very lackluster (at best) photoshop skills of many of the participants.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


What is with the skin tone from the Germany one?

You mean Wendy McDonald?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on June 25


I do think this is an interesting idea and I think her plain photo was a good one to use.

I think the ones that are the most successful are from countries where $5 is actual money (although they're not necessarily making her into their cultural standard of beauty). And I think that factor accounts for some of the difference in quality.

But yeah, I'd like to see this done on a wider scale with more skilled artists. Maybe fiverr wasn't the best choice.
posted by darksong at 3:04 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have a link to the actual original photo? All the ones I see are postage stamp sized but clearly there was a much larger raw image file provided to the photoshop types.
posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on June 25


The Pakistan one looks like how I imagine Replicants to look.
posted by Solomon at 3:25 PM on June 25


Yeah, excellent project concept, but much better Photoshoppers needed
posted by Bwithh at 3:32 PM on June 25


> I wish she had sent me this picture to photoshop. I would have removed that dot from her
> shoulder, just to stay within the guidelines of the project, and returned it otherwise
> unretouched, FOR THE WIN!

I would have left the dot. She is very beautiful as is and doesn't need anything that photoshop can do. (I am totally stealing that photo to use as a collarbone model for drawing.)

She maybe could use some extra sleep.
posted by jfuller at 3:35 PM on June 25


I felt like some of the photos are recognizable to me as stereotypes of beauty of that region.

People keep commenting on the skin tone for the one from Germany but no one seems to have mentioned the bizarre red hair color. When I lived in Germany many years ago, weird shades of obviously dyed red hair were a surprisingly common thing. And Germans kind of tend to be pale. When friends of ours deployed to Saudi from Germany for six weeks during Desert Storm, they all came back with the most amazing tans which was quite shocking in how it contrasted with how everyone else looked.
posted by Michele in California at 3:38 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


WTF USA?!?!?

I wish I could quit this country.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:40 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Actually, i thought her natural beauty was best illustrated in the one from Morocco.

The Morocco "artist" gave her a serious chin job.
posted by Justinian at 3:45 PM on June 25


Hmmm, now I'm not sure that's true and it may just be an artifact of the blue background for her chin in the retouched photo. Weird.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 PM on June 25


The only one I thought was good was the one from the Ukraine.

Also, I don't think this represents what different countries find beautiful so much as the skill of the photoshoppers who worked on it (which, as has been stated here, is not very high for this project).

Interesting idea, though.
posted by bearette at 3:47 PM on June 25


The Argentine one...was she lacquered? Although, it being Argentina, I'm surprised they didn't give her D cups that pop up to her chin.
posted by the sobsister at 3:59 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


dios: "Great, great concept.

Poor execution.
"

In other words, typical Photoshop.
posted by chavenet at 4:00 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I just find it creepy that the Germans just made her whiter.
posted by fnerg at 4:11 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to me that so many more people altered the background than added clothes and so few people significantly altered her hairstyle. I would have expected more hair and clothes added than background color changes. That seems sort of odd to me -- to think changing the background is more important to a lot of people than changing the hairstyle or giving her clothes.

On the other hand, I looked at the initial photo and assumed her hair was up as a kind of blank slate for the project but that is in part because I knew it was this type of project. Presumably the people hired did not. So maybe that is not quite as strange as I think.
posted by Michele in California at 4:17 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Man, it seems like Photoshoppers hate skin. Almost all of them liberally apply the airbrush, not just removing the couple of freckles but all hint of pores and little lines. I think about the only one where she still has some skin texture is the one from Israel.
posted by zompist at 4:17 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Possibly because it's universally accepted that women are not supposed to have pores and freckles and lines. We're supposed to look like porcelain dolls.
posted by billiebee at 4:24 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


"Standards of beauty" differ across cultures? No. Photoshop skills differ across a nonrandomly selected group of so-called photo manipulation professionals. I took a look at the Philippines ones, and if you're going to tell me to my face that that's what my culture thinks a beautiful woman looks like, I'm going to laugh them out of the room.
posted by micketymoc at 4:57 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Oh god men can't do makeup.

... From a casual browse of the links, I don't see any attribution to the photoshop artists, male or female. Am I missing something?
posted by underflow at 5:19 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


This is really interesting but I wish they hadn't sent the USA ones to one of those places that does photos of child beauty pageant contestants.

If you ask me, those pictures perform an important function: they tell readers in the USA how seriously to take the other photos as reflections of local standards of beauty.
posted by baf at 5:20 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Ten minutes with photoshop. (Obviously, I'd fix the ears if I was doing this for real, but I didn't care enough to make my selection properly.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:28 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I just find it creepy that the Germans just made her whiter.
posted by fnerg An hour ago [+]


It's not "The Germans," it's one Photoshop person from fiverr. Although Neo Nazis and racists are a thing I've honestly found Germans to be more progressive than a lot of other Europeans, due to a ton of shame post WWII/Nazi era.
posted by sweetkid at 5:43 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Ten minutes with photoshop.

I've been resisting messing with this, but the hair over her right ear is driving me nuts.

fix it klang, fix it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 PM on June 25


The more I look at these pictures the more I feel like I'm in character creation in Oblivion.
posted by winna at 6:07 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


underflow: "I don't see any attribution to the photoshop artists"

They got paid already; why would they expect attribution as well?
posted by komara at 6:40 PM on June 25


it would be so much better if she'd been able to afford the magazine-quality Photoshop artists from each place.

Definitely, she doesn't have enough fingers.
posted by XMLicious at 6:48 PM on June 25


Theory: the US one was made by a fourteen year old who is really getting into the fantasy genre and stopped just short of adding a pegacorn flying through the background.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:51 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


"I've been resisting messing with this, but the hair over her right ear is driving me nuts.

fix it klang, fix it!
"

Man, doing an ear well takes me forever!
posted by klangklangston at 7:00 PM on June 25


I guess Morocco's beauty standard is passport photos of a headscarfed Olsen twin?
posted by gingerest at 7:01 PM on June 25


bradbane: "Yeah I do retouching for magazines [...]"

Out of curiosity - what would you have done, professionally-speaking? And how long would it take you?
posted by komara at 7:06 PM on June 25


I'm sympathetic that many people here are familiar with Photoshop, and therefore focus on the lackluster technique employed in many of these photos. But doesn't that miss the point?

If one were to compare children's depictions of ideal beauty, would the comparisons be invalid because they were not skilled artists?

I believe the real pitfall here is assuming these indicate anything about regional/cultural definitions of beauty, given the small sample size.
posted by prospero320 at 7:08 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


komara:They got paid already; why would they expect attribution as well?

Well, in a curated art project (which this resembles), attributing the original artist would be pretty conventional. Even after they've been paid.

However, I was more curious how sukeban came to the conclusion it was men doing the makeup.
posted by underflow at 7:17 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Klang inspired me, so here is my quick and dirty attempt.
posted by Justinian at 7:30 PM on June 25 [17 favorites]


Her eyebrows are a little more Burl-Ives-as-Santa-Claus than Daenerys, Justinian.

(Odo had trouble with ears, too, klang.)
posted by gingerest at 7:37 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


hey now, I spent literally minutes on that and you're criticizing?
posted by Justinian at 7:40 PM on June 25


I'm not sure how to fix the eyebrows! Maybe paint them on manually.
posted by Justinian at 7:41 PM on June 25


Here's that animated gif you wanted odinsdream. I also made one with a one second delay.
posted by metaphorever at 7:42 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Actually, i thought her natural beauty was best illustrated in the one from Morocco.

You do realize that a make-up job to look like that in real life would be, I'm guessing, about 30 minutes of solid work using at minimum 10 different products, yes?
posted by jaguar at 7:51 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Actually maybe if I simply made the eyebrows opaque...
posted by Justinian at 7:55 PM on June 25


I think Vietnam was pretty spot on. Smoothed out the skin - and done!
posted by blurker at 8:04 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]



As an experiment, I blended all the photoshopped images together: http://imgur.com/CSnowKm

Thanks metaphorever, I used your gif as a starting point.
posted by citizenoftheworld at 8:40 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


No photoshop in Africa?
posted by Renoroc at 8:42 PM on June 25


For gingerest. I couldn't eat or sleep until I fixed it for you.

on preview: I don't think citizenoftheworld included mine. The lack of dragon gives it away.
posted by Justinian at 9:00 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


This experiment seems to indicate more about what quality of Photoshop skills $5 buys in a particular country than anything about cultural perceptions of beauty.

The two submissions from Bangladesh are just better than either of the US ones, but that might be reflective of $5 buying you a few more minutes worth of skilled time in Bangladesh than in the US.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:00 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


The submission from Bangladesh on the right is better than either of the US ones. The submission on the left is ridiculous. It reminds me of this it's so smudged and airbrushed and blurred.
posted by Justinian at 9:04 PM on June 25


Justinian, thank you, I am very deeply touched and I will cherish this photo at least as long as it took you to make it, or half an hour.

Renoroc, Morocco and Kenya were included so Africa's represented a bit.
posted by gingerest at 9:08 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Most of the rest are disasters. The Australia and Chile ones particularly.

The Chile one is fascinating because they actually did a pretty good job with her face (where "pretty good job" means "altered it to conform more closely to the conventions of glamour photography while not making it look unrealistic")--her skin tone looks a little warmer, they fixed the flyaway hairs on the left side of the photo, blended out the bags under her eyes, chose a lip color that was understated but not washed out--but the hideous cut-and-paste jewelry totally distracts from all of it. It's amazing. I'm trying to figure out what was going on in the photoshopper's head, how many hours they put into doing subtle, careful work, which they then proceeded to completely ruin in 5-seconds.
posted by kagredon at 9:17 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


So when Galadriel did that scary "All shall love me and despair thing" it turns out she was mostly talking about Germany?
posted by No-sword at 9:18 PM on June 25


citizenoftheworld, your blending the layers together got me thinking... Here's a better version of the gif with all of the images aligned and with transition frames added using the layer blending more 'darken'.
posted by metaphorever at 9:42 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Ugh. I'm Germany pale. Which was sort of maybe attractive for 5 minutes when I was younger but also came out on film like I was auditioning for the Adams family. Now I'm just creepy pale. At least I don't dye my hair that shade anymore.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:57 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


However, I was more curious how sukeban came to the conclusion it was men doing the makeup.

Look, buddy, I'm going to tell you a secret: blush isn't applied in two round dots in the middle of the cheeks, like Heidi.

Anyway, that was more of the impact of seeing one badly applied, badly chosen excessive makeup 'shop after another. If you look closely, I qualified my first impression five minutes afterwards. Of course men can be good at applying makeup, sheesh. It's just that too many of them have this vague idea that makeup means Miss Kentucky Pageant Face.
posted by sukeban at 10:05 PM on June 25


It's interesting to me that so many more people altered the background than added clothes and so few people significantly altered her hairstyle.

That's because hair is very hard to retouch, altering it to something else pretty much impossible. You would have to basically draw it.

Out of curiosity - what would you have done, professionally-speaking? And how long would it take you?

The already mentioned hair coming out of her ear is also driving me crazy, and could be fixed with like 5 seconds of clone stamping.

Other than that, for me personally, contrast and color - especially some time spent working on the skin tone - is all it would take. Maybe brighten her eyes and do a subtle amount of skin tone evening (basically very small amounts of dodge/burn, not any kind of structural change or anything like the barbie teen princess airbrush vibe you get from a lot of these disasters in the link). Give me a RAW file and an hour and I could make it look magazine worthy without touching the actual pixels (except for that hair strand).

I can also perform surgery, but that'll take more than an hour
posted by bradbane at 10:06 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Serbia's like "What are you talking about? You look fine. Not enough dots, though..."
posted by SharkParty at 10:19 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


Wow, someone in Germany has a thing for imaginary Irishwomen.
posted by pseudocode at 2:39 AM on June 26


sukeban: "Look, buddy, I'm going to tell you a secret: blush isn't applied in two round dots in the middle of the cheeks, like Heidi."

So the logic process went "Men are bad at makeup. These makeup jobs are bad. Therefore they must have been done by men. Therefore they are evidence that men are bad at makeup."

I think it's clear that the problem is actually left-handed people, for the exact same reasons.
posted by Bugbread at 2:50 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


The longer answer is that many of these virtual makeup jobs are bad in the ways that one person who has never acquainted themselves with makeup as a user but have only noticed makeup when a person's face is completely caked on would commit.

#NOTALLMEN.
posted by sukeban at 2:59 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


(nothing against tall men)
posted by sukeban at 3:00 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


No tall men? How tallist of you!
posted by greenhornet at 3:59 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I wasn't expecting this to offend me on so many levels
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:31 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I think really well-done photoshops by professionals would probably be less interesting. Dollar for dollar, it would probably be more revealing to get many cheap photoshops than a smaller number of good ones.
posted by snofoam at 12:31 PM on June 26


Klang and Justinian, yours are my two favorites of the bunch! I can't believe that was like ten minutes and that's all the time it took.

If I had to pick, I'd go with Justinian's, just because every woman looks better with a dragon on her shoulder.

I wish I were better with Photoshop. I'd like to see how she would look with tattoos, or piercings, or as a person of color, just to liven the gallery up a bit.
posted by misha at 4:45 PM on June 26


Honig's sister is conspicuous local artist Peregrine Honig.
posted by absqua at 5:16 PM on June 26


I wish I were better with Photoshop. I'd like to see how she would look with tattoos, or piercings, or as a person of color, just to liven the gallery up a bit.

As far as a POC:
You can use the Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer to change the age, race or sex of a facial image, to transform it to the style of a famous artist, to make an exagerated caricature or even make an ape of yourself!
From the University of St Andrews in Scotland. (Unfortunately I'm getting an error right now when trying to upload the image from the article, but hopefully that will be resolved...)
posted by XMLicious at 5:52 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


"Klang and Justinian, yours are my two favorites of the bunch! I can't believe that was like ten minutes and that's all the time it took."

What I did was pretty quick:

1) She's got a weird sickly undertone to her skin, and the exposure is a little dull, so I lightened it and manually adjusted the color levels (using auto gave a horrid blue thing).

2) I used a quick healing brush to take care of a bunch of flyaway wisps of hair.

3) I selected her hair and brightened it up by shifting the tone and increasing the saturation a touch.

4) I used the blur brush with ~50% opacity to remove a handful of blemishes, and to soften her under-eye bags without removing them totally (because I think it looks weird when folks do that).

5) I moved her left eye (our right) down a couple millimeters to make it more symmetrical. (Basically, marquee tool, cut and pasted her eye as a new level, inched it down to a guideline.)

6) I used the smudge to inch her clavicle in a touch on her right (our left).

That's it. If I wanted to spend more time, I would have done a better job selecting (if you look at mine, I got a chunk of her ear in the hair that looks particularly egregious), and would have removed the flyaway hair on her ear completely. But it's not just a simple clone there, since it cuts across her ear, so it would have taken me way more time than I cared to spend. Likewise, I probably would have tried to add some color depth to her eyebrows, and would have definitely done a better job under her eyes. If I was REALLY going at it, like someone was paying me, I'd do even more work with the skin tone, especially warming up some highlights.

But really, I think she looked pretty all right to begin with, and doing the digital retouching on photos is easily my least favorite part of photography (I find it especially frustrating when things that I'd do in the darkroom are more difficult to manipulate digitally), and I'm not great at it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:52 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I used to work at Barely Legal, where I saw the most bizarre airbrushing decisions again and again with women, and I tend toward a reportage aesthetic anyway, so I don't really do this stuff very often. Still, I'd have to imagine that nearly all of these freelancers took even less time with it than I did, since they should be faster if they're advertising on a bottom-rung freelancer site (it's the only way to make money — ten minutes worth of work for $5 is $30 per hour, which is low here but probably pretty workable in Croatia or wherever.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:55 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


What I did was:

1) Make her eyes violet.

2) Make her hair silvery white

3) Put a dragon on her shoulder

4) Slap some fire in the background

That's it, baby.
posted by Justinian at 6:13 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Still, I'd have to imagine that nearly all of these freelancers took even less time with it than I did

I still doubt they are people who make a living using Photoshop. Don't you think they're more likely to be amateurs with a copy of dubious legality who use it for fun rather than profit? Because a lot of that is very shoddy work even given the constraints as you yourself demonstrated with your effort. Which didn't have any dragons but was otherwise nicely done.
posted by Justinian at 6:33 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


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