An interesting article published recently by the website onlinedoctor.superdrug.com gave a fascinating look at how culture can shape and evaluate ideas of beauty and what we perceive as the ideal form and figure. The project was assigned to 18 freelance designers in different countries. Most who participated in the experiment/study were female (four males participated, however, with required female input). The designers were given a stock photo of a model and were asked to work off that sample.
The directive for the project was:
“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.”
Perceptions were far-ranging among different cultures, from the somewhat surprising Chinese and Italian waif-like portrayals, to the voluptuous transformations for Spain and Colombia.
The website ran a brief survey with a 35-person sample and, assuming a height of 165 centimeters, asked participants to guess the weight of the woman in each Photoshopped image. They then calculated BMI (body mass index) based on average weight data.
Based on estimations of the resulting images, China came in to a startling 102 pounds, which could actually be considered anorexic due to the BMI of 17.0, (17.5 is considered anorexic). Italy followed closely at 108 pounds with a BMI of 18.
The guesstimated ideal weight for the Philippines was 128 pounds (a healthy 21.3 BMI), and the country with the highest (but still healthy BMI) was Spain at 153 pounds and 25.5. BMI.
These renderings can be conflicting and confusing—where exactly do we fit in? Do we fit in our cultural stereotype?
Chances are, many of us probably don’t, but there is reassurance knowing that beauty comes in many different forms, at least according to this study.
(And in the Netherlands, you get to wear boots.) (end)