What makes someone beautiful? How do even we define beauty? Perceptions and beliefs surrounding beauty are widely debated: blond and blue-eyed or brunette and curvy? Dark skin and dark hair or light skin and light eyes?

Superdrug Online Doctor conducted an eye-opening experiment called ‘Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders‘ where they aimed to discover the answer to:

How do perceptions of beauty vary across the globe?

The team at Superdrug asked female graphic designers from 18 nations spanning five continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia to Photoshop an original photo of the female form by “making her, in their opinion, more attractive to other citizens in their country.”

The ultimate goal of the project?

“To better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures vary around the world.”

Researchers gave the designers basic instructions:

Photoshop her form. The idea is to Photoshop and retouch this woman to make her more attractive to the citizens of your country. We are looking to explore how perceptions of beauty change across the world. Multiple designers are involved. You can modify clothing, but her form must be visible. No nudity. All other changes, including those to her shape and form, are up to you.

Here are the submissions:

perfect-female-infographic, perceptions of perfection

It’s fascinating and intriguing how beauty is defined in each of these cultures. Most importantly, it shows that there is no one single determinant of beauty. Some of the images look like an entirely different woman from the original. The most common changes were hair color, attire and hip-to-waist ratio.

While some designers manipulated the image to create an hourglass figure, designers in European and Asian nations “chose to render her so thin that her estimated BMI would fall under or dangerously close to 17.5.” The scary part? Adults with a BMI below 17.5 are considered anorexic, according to the National Health Service.

To see the full-sized Photoshopped image by each country, see the original post here.

Superdrug concluded their study with the following: “While beauty can come in many forms, and we suspect that people will forever chase these assorted ideals of perfection, [we] commissioned this study to explore how such ideals vary across borders.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder has never rang more true.

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and human behavioral investigator in our lab.

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