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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Esther Honig

Esther HonigEsther Honig, a freelance journalist based out of Kansas City and a recent graduate from Mills College in Oakland, California is a remarkably creative girl. At Mills College she studied Spanish, Latin American studies and got a start doing live radio with local station KALW. Before her internship with KCUR Esther held a five-month fellowship in Santiago, Chile, where she worked in Microfinance for not-for-profit organization Kiva.

In her own words:

"I'm a human interest reporter who works in both broadcast and print mediums." she recently stated.

"I'm a blogger, bilingual - proficient in both Spanish and English, and a social media enthusiast."

"I'm determined to document my life, my memories and the small fleating and wonderful stories happening all around me."

"In my work I enjoy the opportunity to hold intimate conversations and to know a diversity of people and characters. I aim to position the bigger, more complex stories through the tiny lens of a single individual. I love that being a reporter means I tread ground that I have no reason being on otherwise, like climbing the worst tallest waterslide or spending the day on a turkey farm. I am an adventurer and an advid questioner. My mom often tells me that sometimes I'm too brave."

Esther HonigRecently Esther sent out an unaltered photograph of herself to more than 40 Photoshop aficionados in different countries around the world and asked each to "make me beautiful”. It was her hope to bring to light how standards of beauty differ across various cultures.

Her project titled 'Before & After' originally dawned on Honig while she was working as a social media manager for a small startup. Her boss introduced her to Fiverr.com, an international freelancing website where people can hire freelancers from around the world to provide almost any job imaginable. When she visited the site, Esther saw the large number of these freelancers offering skills in Photoshop.

"It immediately occurred to me that in this pool of workers, each individual more than likely had an aesthetic preference particular to their own culture". From this simple realization the idea for 'Before & After' was born.

When she began working with freelancers from over 25 countries, she expected that the images would differ from country to country, but was herself caught off guard by just how drastically some of the images were altered.

"Seeing some jobs for the first time made me shriek. Other times images, like the one from Morocco, took my breath away because they were far more insightful than I could have expected,” Esther said.

Esther HonigCertainly the images she has collected so far are interesting as individual images - examples of a unique portrait of the standards of beauty in each country. But, when taken into perspective, the project becomes much more.

It is an interesting launching point from which to start a global conversation about unattainable beauty standards around the world.

"Overall what I've learned from this project is this - Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive", she concluded.

With a cost ranging from five to thirty dollars, and the hope that each designer would pull from their personal and cultural perspectives of beauty to enhance my unaltered image, all I requested was that they ‘make me beautiful’.

To see the photographs that Honig has collected thus far you can visit Esther Honig's website at: www.estherhonig.com

Note: Some countries have multiple images from different artists.

Esther HonigThe Photoshop project is but one aspect of the creative nature of Esther Honig. In digging a little deeper for more background on her I came across a blog entitled Synapses: a blog on Alzheimer's Disease in which she speaks about the tragedy of Alzheimer's Disease. It is an extremely well written chronicle of the effects this disease has on not only its victim, but its widespread effect on the rest of the family - and that family was Esther, her sister and her mother.

Alzheimer disease is a degenerative brain disease attributed with disrupting the fragile brain synapses connection. Brain synapses firing is an electric single sent from one brain cell to another - basically how our brain communicates, creates and stores information.

Synapses is an independent blog that explores the many facets of Alzheimer's, including current research, the resulting industry, and Esthers own personal experience as the daughter of a man living with early on-set Alzheimer's Disease.

It is an amazing portrait of her father, Jordan Honig, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. Within my own family there is an incidence of Alzheimer disease and it can generate much in the way of conflicting thoughts and emotions when individual incidents can, at times, provoke laughter due to their absurd nature.

But, a family member with Alzheimer disease is no laughing matter.

Esther HonigIn Esther Honig's own words:

"For Sysnapses, I decided it was necessary to share his stories with readers. But rather than describe them through my own writing, I felt the only way for others to experience them would be via recording. The way he fumbles for the right words, and speaks with an unbreakable sincerity, are details I could not begin to convey on paper."

"After recording two interviews and editing down the audio, my sister Peregrine Honig generously agreed to collaborate with me. In a tedious process, she lovingly created hundreds of illustrations, and together we curated a stop motion film."

"Eg Schempf assisted with lighting and equipment and what resulted is a short animation that is as coherent and methodical as its narrative."

Jordan Stories

Another blog Esther wrote is about her Fellowship, working in Santiago, Chile for months. About her experiences in South America and Mexico, it again is excellent writing that is both thoughtful and entertaining.


And there is also her own website at: estherhonig.com

FreePeople.com is an apparel company that shot a short film/video entitled Sun Chaser to augment that part of their apparel line of the same name. It was shot near Kansas City and directed and edited by their in-house videographer Rachel who first joined the Free People family just a few months ago. She cast Esther in the video because she knew her sister Peregrine, a local artist.

Free People Blog



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