When we look at issues relating to body image and connect it with mainstream fashion, beauty, advertising and media, the conversations have started to change drastically. There are numerous women who have collectively forced change in the dialog simply by showing their individual perspectives and showing the aforementioned industries how unhappy the majority of us are with with narrow ideals of beauty.
The latest powerful voice to do this is University of Oklahoma B.F.A, Art Media student Kelsey Higley with a project titled ‘Manipulated‘.
Kelsey took 126 images of herself, digitally altered them in drastic ways, and looped some of them in a video below to show how different a person’s body can look when manipulation is involved.
What was the point of this project? To blow the lid on standards of unrealistic beauty that industries create, yet they are formed from digital programs which means no human can actually ever live up to them.
“Women are expected to be beautiful, but what exactly qualifies as beauty? Beauty is defined as “the combination of all the qualities of a person or thing that delight the senses and please the mind.” The idealization of beauty has evolved countless times throughout history, going through periods of plump, curvy figures to stick-thin waifs and continues to change from person to person,” she writes.
“The self-portrait video loop depicts my own struggle with beauty and how my perceptions change throughout a much shorter period of time. The work is a commentary on not only these unrealistic idealizations of beauty, but also the women’s desire to be attractive.”
Along with the photos and video of herself, Kelsey also took photos of four other women who have been digitally altered to look like the beauty standards from different periods throughout civilization. It reminds us of the awesome video Buzzfeed made not to long ago where they featured women of all different ethnicities and body types portraying the “ideal” beauty standards from across the world and throughout history. The variation of images already juxtaposes itself with the words “ideal” and “standard” because there are so many to choose from.
“Being a young woman, I have had many battles with this idea of beauty. I’ll go through stages where all I want in life is to be super fit with rock hard abs and big boobs, then after a while I’ll flip to the other side and tell myself that I should love and embrace the body I have. But as soon as I start scrolling through the Internet, my mind is flooded with images of this impossible, ‘ideal’ beauty’,” Kelsey told Hello Giggles about her project.
In the images she has given herself a ridiculously small waist, a huge bust and even Disney-esque eyes that just add to the ridiculous nature of what photoshop does to an image.
“It felt very therapeutic editing each photo as my appearance became unrecognizable and less human with every click,” she adds. “This project reminds me that these things I categorize as my flaws are what makes me human. And I love that.”
Take a look at the video below as an important reminder that images we see in ad campaigns, in magazine editorials and billboards are not real, and despite industry pressure, they are NOT fantasies that we should aspire to.