Journalist Esther Honig sent an unedited photo of herself to 25 graphic designers around the world, with the instructions “make me beautiful.” The resulting series, Before & After, is both moving and humorous in its representations of beauty ideals embodied by these designers of varying ability.
You only need to look at the American image to realize that there is no one idea of beauty even within a country, but these representations can tell us a little about the politics of beauty in their countries of origin. The racial dynamics are inescapable — some designers made her skin darker to match more closely with their country’s ethnic appearance, while others lightened her skin further, an uncomfortable reference to the over-influence of Western beauty ideals in the age of globalization. Other work by Honig can be viewed on her website. (Images Courtesy Esther Honig)