Watch This Woman Digitally Alter Her Body In Real Time

In the mesmerizing video above, University of Oklahoma art media student Kelsey Higley creates the impression that she is altering her body in real time, her hand gestures seemingly adjusting the size and shape of her stomach, hips, breasts, eyes, and more. It's like watching plastic surgery performed by a Jedi. "The video loop is a stop-motion self-portrait created by combining roughly 126 digitally manipulated photos that create the illusion that I am molding my body like modeling clay," Higley explains in her project statement. As for the intention behind the technology, "The video goes through several stages of 'beauty' as I receive conflicting opinions on what true beauty is. As I go back and forth, I end on my natural body, and the video starts over."

The diversity of the modifications Higley's body undergoes nods to her own wavering interpretation of beauty. Higley does not simply progress via Photoshop toward today's "ideal body" but alternately reduces and expands body parts until the sequence begins again on loop, representing her internal battle between self-acceptance and the desire to change. "Being a young woman, I have had many battles with this idea of beauty," Higley told Hello Giggles. "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."

The video is part of a multi-media series titled "Manipulated," which also includes five images that capture the "ideal women" of the Renaissance, Victorian era, 1960s, 1980s, and 2010s. Together, the series' visuals remind us that beauty standards are not static and that women have striven for centuries to acquire whichever physical characteristics were in vogue at the time. Today's "ideal" body — thin, toned, well-endowed — is no more an objectively "good" body than the boyish flapper's or the soft and curvy Gibson Girl's. Body love, meanwhile, is a process — not a destination.
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