Photoshop Me Beautiful

size dont matter

There is an epidemic sweeping the nation which drastically affects the way we see ourselves. It’s called the measles, and it gives you rashes and fevers and sometimes dying and just vaccinate your kids.

Also, there were a couple series that recently-ish circulated the internet in which women sent a photo of themselves to people around the world asking to “make them beautiful”. You can check out the projects here and here.

Intrigued by the notion of cross-cultural beauty standards, I decided to conduct my own experiment and see what happened when different people edited the same picture of me.

The Original Photo
size dont matter

I chose this photo since it portrays me in a very natural and distraction-free setting. I assumed my resting face, seen above, would provide an apt blank canvas. Also, my hair is actually clean in this picture, and I just wanted as many people to have documented proof of that as possible.

Let’s see how the photo changes when edited by different people. Here are a few ideas and phrases to keep in mind while scrolling aimlessly: beauty standards, perception, cultural differences, nothing is real, #nofilter, self-worth, millennial, cheese doodle, why did she take a picture of herself in a grocery store in the first place?


I started by editing the photo myself because this is as much an exercise in self-reflection as it is in having other people tell me what they don’t like about me.

In my edit, I cropped the original photo into a square because, despite what you may assume from 60s slang, that is a very cool shape. Then, I added a filter called Walden to make me seem cool and literate. Next, I added a tilt shift so people think I know what’s up design-wise. I chose the focal point based on what I thought would make me look the coolest/what obscured my actual face the most.

I give this version of me an 9/10 because I’m pretty sure there are cheeses in the background of this photo, and I wish I would have chosen them as the focal point.

My Mom
Photoshop Mom

Can you spot the difference from the original photo? I’ll give you a hint: she didn’t fill my eyebrows in or make my lips fuller.

This edit gets a 2/10 because my mom didn’t even mention how proud she was that I was going grocery shopping.

Alien I Met On Craigslist

Incredible. Absolutely breathtaking. Really representative of all aliens’ ideals of beauty.


My Friend’s Dog

Oooh, very controversial crop and use of the pencil tool.

10/10 for making the broken “Cheese Shop” sign the only thing you can really make sense of in this photo.

5th Grade Me
5th grade me

The alien I met on Craigslist helped me travel back in time to have my 5th grade self also edit this photo. After a lot of fear-crying and misunderstood references to Looper, she made this edit. The all-pink makeup choices are bold and really foreshadow what my attempts at eye shadow looked like all throughout middle school.

What do you think it says about our society that I felt I needed to use makeup at such a young age? What do you think the overuse of pink says about our cultural notions of femininity? How do you think me traveling back in time to talk to my past self will disrupt our future?

4-5/10 depending on how much this destroyed the time-space continuum.

Every Person who’s Ever Said I’m “Pretty for an Asian Girl”

Oops, sorry that’s an edit for something else.

10/10 on my seamless Photoshop skills though.


Guy from Church Camp who Sent Me Multiple Unsolicited Shirtless Pictures of Himself
Photoshop Church Guy

7/10 for the person to red cup proportions. All I ever want is to be seen next to unreasonably large items that make me appear smaller.

Girl from the Public Pool Who Told Me I Had a Mustache When I Was 12

Okay, I feel like maybe she misunderstood the assignment…or she very much understood the assignment and decided it would be better for everyone if I grew as much facial hair as possible. I’m with you on that one, Pool Girl.

9/10 for encouraging the growth of a full-on twirly mustache. -1 for not including armpit or chest hair. Real missed opportunity there.

My Cashier at Target

The most beautiful yet.

9.5/10 because I saved 5%.

A Homeless Man

I give this a -10/10 for missing the point entirely and trying to make this about a completely different societal issue.

Think about how you would have edited the photo. Would you have smoothed out the fly-aways in my hair? Evened out my skin tone? Perhaps Photoshopped something wildly inappropriate in my empty hand? All things to consider the next time you wonder why I’m taking a picture of myself in a grocery store.

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