Is perfection something that can be summed up in one image? Marius Vibe sure thinks so. Vibe, a Norwegian artist, recently used the art of Photoshop to combine eight American and British celebrities into what is now being called, “the world’s most beautiful woman”.
This project and the resulting image has cracked open a dialogue for what defines perfection in a world dominated by pop culture. Although many news outlets praised Vibe for his masterful Photoshop abilities, Vibe’s approach should be criticized for being exclusive and whitewashed.
How did this result come about? Vibe did not choose eight beautiful women from differing cultures, nor did he choose eight celebrities at random. The artist chose those defined by Maxim magazine as the eight “hottest women alive”– who just so happen to be white, famous, and stick-thin. The resulting image reflects just that; a thin woman with bright green eyes, light hair, and even lighter skin. Vibe named her Olivia Whiteley, a name that is just as nondescript as her appearance.
Although it was well-received by some news outlets, the experiment was met with some skepticism. Buzzfeed noted that it was obvious that the eight women were of similar race and stature, and mentioned that Vibe regretted not using “picks of his own” to represent different races.
What would this have looked like? Let’s compare Whiteley to another rendering that has been trending in recent months.
A 2014 National Geographic article researched what the average person will most likely look like by 2050. This projected image (right) significantly differs from Olivia Whiteley. Although this is a futuristic image, it does a good job of representing our diversity today. The article goes on to state that Americans who identify as multi-racial have gone up by 32 percent since the year 2000. As this number continues to climb, those who look like a “Whiteley” will become more of a rarity– an impossible-to-reach image of “perfection” that will no longer be the standard.
What does the contrast of these two images mean? It is not to say that one woman is more beautiful than the other. It’s just obvious that Vibe’s project was that of a Photoshop challenge rather than the researched renderings of worldwide beauty.
Olivia Whiteley may not be a profound image, but it could have some profound effects. The lack of effort on Vibe’s part has ultimately sent a negative message to readers about image that cannot be taken back. Whether or not he meant to, Vibe’s image will forever argue that the American Hollywood standard is the superior image of beauty.