A young Kansas City journalist named Esther Honig, who contributes to KCUR, had an idea for a project.
She sent a simple, straightforward portrait of herself to Photoshoppers around the globe with a request to make her beautiful. She wanted to see what that would mean to people in different parts of the world, investigating how culturally specific definitions of beauty might play into the results.
The Indonesian Esther has very pink lips, grayish eyes and a light, matte complexion. The Moroccan Esther is wearing a headscarf; her eyes are thickly lined and her cheeks appear chiseled, her lips slightly pursed. The Pakistani Esther's eyes look like glowing marbles and her skin has been darkened.
We sat down with Esther on Monday's Central Standard to talk about the past few days of international semi-stardom. She talked about the vulnerability that came with "exploiting" her own image for this project, and how the images people sent back both did and didn't match her expectations.
Photoshop guru Steve McFarland also weighed in on the discussion, signaling where the use of this particular tool is headed, and why projects like Esther's are important.