Chasserot took pains to recruit a wide sample of subjects ranging from elementary school children to senior citizens, from a wide range of ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The breadth of the population raises many questions. Do certain groups tend to prefer a specific type of modification? Do women, who are thought to be the recipient of the most distorted body image signals, prefer the most extreme modifications?
The results are inconclusive. Some models responded enthusiastically to these dramatic virtual makeovers while others picked photos that are just slightly different from their original portraits. Chasserot offers no unifying theories to explain the differences in preference. “I had my theories as to what might happen, such as that most people would prefer a version loosely adhering towards the established canons of beauty,” he says. “The aim, however, was not to add to the literature on on preferences along those lines. It was to provoke a reaction in the audience as to what their assumptions are about these complete strangers and their supposed desires.”
Some of the choices are surprising. One woman chose a slightly disheveled portrait as her ideal, a choice Chasserot attributes to a flaw in his approach to photo retouching which was later re-calibrated. Another outlier features a young boy with comically large eyes. “I could only speculate, but it’s true that I would love to prove that the boy preferred huge eyes because he loves manga cartoons. I’ll let you know once I can.”