Photographer Phillip Toledano definitely hit the nail on the head when he chose the name for his latest collection: A New Kind of Beauty.

A ‘new kind’ indeed – Toledano’s portraits are of people who have had radical reconstructive surgery.



In explanation of his work, Toledano projected that “in fifty or one hundred years time, I think humanity won’t look like it does today because of technology… We will be able to redefine what it means to look human and I think these people are the vanguard of that type of evolution.”

As Slate reports, the series grew from social media connections and word of mouth:

During an assignment to photograph a man who’d had multiple plastic surgery procedures, Toledano befriended the man’s press assistant. Through that friendship on Facebook, he noticed Allanah, a transgendered woman who had also gone through multiple surgeries. He photographed her, and she in turn let him know about other people for the project. It grew into a larger network of friends of friends.

He admitted people’s reaction to A New Kind of Beauty had been mixed, but not unexpected.

“Usually there are two kinds of feedback,” he said. The expected ‘Holy shit! These people look crazy’, which definitely isn’t the point of the work… it’s too easy in art to take a group or subgroup of people and point and laugh. I’ve never been interested in that.

“And then there are hopefully some people who understand the point I’m making about the direction we’re headed, which is what I’m trying to do… I’m not naïve; I know people will look at the work and be taken aback, but I hope they can work through that and see the point I’m trying to make.”

“I wanted to make beautiful and distinguished portraits of these people… I wanted to represent a particular part of beauty from our time,” Toledano said.

Although Toledano’s perspective is curiously refreshing and visionary, one might question whether these faces are indeed representative of our time (for now)…

angelAngel (left) and Yvette (right)
fredNikki (left) and Fred (right)

You can view Phillip Toledano’s other work on his website. His photographs appear here with his kind permission.

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  • Reply April 5, 2013



  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Wendy Harmer

    But you know this is a very good point – it is a new kind of human look and that’s why we’re fascinated by it. Very interesting thoughts.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Not everyone feels they fit the skin they are in and there has always been a subset of humanity that loves to go to extremes, and to radically alter themselves. Once make-up and clothing, over- or under-eating, tattoos, hairstyle, bulking up muscles and so on, would do it, now compliant surgeons will help out those with the money and the inclination. I feel sympathy for those in the pix: I wonder what they see when they look in the mirror? And Toledano’s claim that this is the future of humanity – is he bedazzled by his subjects or just being provocative?

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Nel Matheson

    Very interesting photographs. Beautifully shot. Thought-provoking. Can’t help feeling that invasive surgical practices to attain a specific physical appearance is an extreme way to seek – what? Lost for the right words. I don’t feel sympathy for the folk portrayed – it’s their right to do what they want. I do feel puzzlement and a genuine curiosity about reasons and motives for such procedures.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    The Huntress

    A very interesting study. Am interested to see the discussion on this one.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Beautifully shot I agree, which gives a dignity I don’t think would be accorded them in real time. Body dismorphia is my guess. Not as extreme as wanting to have limbs cut off because they don’t feel they should be part of their body, and don’t see them as such, but definitely as extreme as anorexics. Everyone, except particular types of narcissists looks in the mirror and doesn’t like something. We often learn as we grow older, to highlight the good points and learn how to diminish the not so good. What we’re comfortable with about our image in tne mirror seems to change as we age also. The men mostly seem to be going for an androgynous look of some sort, and the lady with the Pre-Raphealite tresses seems to be going for a looke from Avatar. Not as weird, though as the people who have horns implanted under their scalp or toungues slit to look like snake toungues.

    The look of the future? No way. While fashions of beauty change over eras, I don’t think this will be the majority of the population. Many don’t look fully human, and I wonder where instinct takes us then.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    helen b

    The people in these photographs look ‘unreal’, in the true sense of the word. They all look ‘doll-like’. Allannah, for one, looks like a barbie doll. Yet I have some sense of the yearning of men who want to be beautiful women. The only transgender I’ve known closely from years ago, had no urge to have radical surgery on his/her face, but to be as ‘real’ as possible. Plenty of gay men would take it on.

    Also, captured in these portraits is a wistfulness, a sense of separation from the world. They look strange, possibly estranged, like characters in film, fairy stories, from the world of make-believe, pretending to be someone else.

    Of course, this is my projection, as is the case with opinions of art forms. This whole thing is an art form which has arisen out of the need for the psyche to feel ‘beautiful’ and must come directly from their perception of what is beautiful. The question that arises in my mind is how much their concept of ‘beautiful’ has been conditioned by social perceptions and models of beauty. Not that it matters. But, how much are we controlled by social conditioning as portrayed by mass media.

    I can’t see it as the way of the future. Why would anyone subject themselves to surgery unless they are desperate…desperate to feel beautiful in their own eyes.

    I’d back ‘stem cell’ surgery over plastic surgery any day as the way of the future. Only last week, the report was that the stem cell scientists had discovered how to grow a new tooth.

    I’d rather look my human self than some strange alien being from fantasy. I’ll leave that for fancy dress parties, which may yet see a return to populariy.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Given that current study shows the human race originated in eastern/central Africa, I wonder whether the very full lips favoured by all the above (and in most celeb enhancements) is some sort of unconscious instinctive desire to return to the Mother image…?

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Our minds must be amazing. Although descriptively, there is nothing here that might not be natural variance in appearance, to my mind there is something artificial in the construction of each person’s appearance (and judging by others’ comments, I am not alone in perceiving that).

    A few years ago now (so sorry, I can’t recall the source) I read that perceptions of beauty are based on whatever is unattainable for most women. So, four hundred years ago, few women could be fat so Rubens’ models were beautiful. A hundred years ago, working women were tanned, so white was beautiful. Fifty years ago, tan was beautiful because most women didn’t have time to sun themselves. Thirty-five years ago, athletic was beautiful because once again, most women at the time didn’t have time or resources to exercise to that extent. Twenty years ago, very thin was beautiful because most women are not able to become very thin without looking gaunt or ill.

    More recently, plastic surgery is gaining prevalence but unattainable for most people, due to cost considerations. Could it be that some people see surgically altered faces as the most beautiful because they are unattainable?

    • Reply April 5, 2013


      That’s a really interesting theory … it makes sense … thanks for giving me something to think about …

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    I think plastic surgery is still in its youth,these people what to bee different but they look the same as each other.j

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Gabbie Smith

    Astounding work. Mr Toledano is an AMAZING artist.

    He has captured this peoples vanity as well as their grotesqueness and made it seem beautiful.

    Love it and what it represents of individuals need to be unique, beautiful and forever young.

    Gabbie x

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    It’s sad in a way because even though these shots are beautifully taken there is an emptiness in every one of these faces , I get the feeling that something is missing and that is life’s experiences the wrinkles the laugh lines the facial features passed down through the Generations like Grandmas Nose Grandads chin. To me they remind me of Aliens not in a bad way but in a strange unknown way.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Absolutely horrendous that this is what we call modern beauty. These poor creatures as just parodies of who they were born as while trying to look like what society says is beautiful or presentable. While I understand that some people are in genuinely need for “alterations” because of deformities or whatever but these people look hollow and alien in an attempt to satisfy themselves and be considered special. I feel very very sorry for them.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    If they are NOW happy with how they look, then that is good for them as it is more about how they perceive themselves. It becomes a concern when people are getting their faces changed because they think it will make people like them, supposedly because they are more attractive now. They just look at each feature seperately. They wanted big lip and now they have them, arched eyebrows and now they have that too, no wrinkles etc. so they are happy. They don’t see it as a whole face which is what everyone else sees.
    I say this because of a friend. She had thin lips and hated them, fair enough. But instead of just plumping them enough to look good on her she overdid it as she wanted as big as she could get. She is a 52 yr old white women with lips like Jennifer Hudsons. Looks fine on a black women(no racist intent) but stupid a white women and she wears red lipstick now because she used to look like she had a bloody cut if she wore red. She has since had eyebrows and wrinkles done. They just don’t all go together. One surgeon wouldn’t do it because he said he valued his reputation. (we thought that was funny, she didn’t oops) It is very obvious it is unnatural, so she is fooling only herself, but she is happy with how she looks so that is what counts. Her husband absolutely hates it and they have had some major fights about it unfortunetly and their marrage is pretty much over.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Deb Mendelson

    Extreme says it all…revolting
    These people obviously have no self awareness ….
    Very sad 🙁

    • Reply April 5, 2013


      Im not sure that you know what self awareness is – there is really no way that you could know from a photo whether or not someone is self aware (it has nothing to do with appearance!)

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    None of them looked very happy! And they all looked slightly unearthly, a bit alien like really.
    It will be sad when in 50 or 100 years time everyone will be expected to look like this with surprised eyes and an inability to smile. Sad indeed.

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    Keziah Hill

    Very powerful images. They look alien but as though they are from the same family. What an interesting basis for a story …

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    Such beautiful photos. I am loathe to say anything negative as these are all human beings, with insecurities and fears just like the rest of us. Sometimes I think those who undergo cosmetic surgery are quite brave, because the risks involved are huge vs the potential gain. Mostly I feel sad for them, because society puts us in these boxes… we learn by osmosis that we should be a certain way and it’s so hard to break free of these expectations. The negative internal chatter is hard to silence because it’s hard to extract ourselves from society.

    It is clear that as individuals we need to be kinder and smarter. We need to question the messages we take in and send out. Looks should not be valued this much. Making fun of these people who are already feeling insecure helps nobody. It’s like fat shaming. It makes things worse, not better.

    I wonder if after their surgeries these people felt happier or more satisfied. I wonder if they ever have ‘enough’. I don’t think it would be that easy but I really wish everyone could find happiness.

    Anyway I’m not entirely sure what to think about this art, though I do find it beautiful and the people involved show vulnerability but also strength. I hate being photographed at the best of times but these people are/were insecure to the point of radically changing themselves, yet are now willing to have their images captured in this way.

    Humans are amazing creatures.

  • Reply April 5, 2013


    I agree that hurtful comments, they offer little to the conversation and these are individuals with feelings. What I wonder is who are the medicos doing this – is this the best use of their skills and what happened to primum non nocere – first do no harm ?

  • Reply April 6, 2013


    Unimaginative portraits. Decent lighting. The ugliest people I’ve ever seen.

  • Reply April 6, 2013


    A coming out. They look transgender. If so I expect it’s made them feel as alien and empty as they look although that could be just the pose. The photographer thinks he is challenging us but has missed the point. It seems to me they have altered their bodies to pass the test of gender. By ‘confessing’ their difference they show how great is their need to conform to society’s expectations and assumptions about gender. Sad but their way of fitting in.

  • Reply April 6, 2013


    To me, they all look like a cross between waxen figures from Madame Tussauds and the CGI-type characters as in ‘Avatar’.

  • Reply April 7, 2013


    Huh, funny. I have quite a few transgender friends, and apart from Monique (who appears to have something very strange going on in her breast region), all of these people look perfectly fine to me. I’m sure they were all delighted with their photographs, as they do look beautiful.
    A lot of the comments here are judgemental and hurtful. May I invite you to consider that your views of what constitutes ‘normal’, particularly in relation to where people sit in regards to their sexuality and/or gender, is a product of your lack of exposure to a vast subculture of people who don’t fit neatly into society’s boxes. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with them, they’re just on a different part of the bell curve to most of us in terms of how we perceive sexuality.
    I love that there are people out there who are comfortable with their difference, and who are so sure of who they are that they’re prepared to pursue what they want. It’s difficult to ‘get’ when you’re gifted with a societally condoned sexuality, and are happy about it, but, yeah, I see an interesting, courageous, bunch of people I’d be very comfortable hanging out with.

  • Reply April 7, 2013


    I was out on the town with some girlfriends last night & the conversation turned to plastic surgery & if we did it, what would we change about ourselves? A fun hypothetical to play with over a few cocktails but made me think how going down the plastic fantastic route is becoming de rigueur amongst women. Do we do it for ourselves or because of our desperate need to feel validated by other’s opinions of us? Me, I’d rather go on holiday..

  • Reply April 7, 2013


    There is a series of 3 books written by Scott Westerfeld set in the future where everyone has plastic surgery around 16-17 to look ‘pretty’. Those who haven’t yet had surgery are called the ‘uglies”. The books are more about the freedom to live the way you want rather than a comment on plastic surgery as such. A great read.

  • Reply April 8, 2013

    Linda Robinson

    These photos do nothing for me; but I applaud the bravery of these people making photos public for discussion. If they are happy with the end results- that is what really matters. We know nothing of their lives.

  • Reply April 10, 2013


    reminds me of diane arbus photography… somewhat similar subject matter in that it explores beyond of what is perceived as ‘normal’. amazing.

  • Reply June 18, 2013

    beth gosden

    ummmm, dont think it will catch on- to have all this done you need to have money and lots of it! I feel extreme low self esteem and body dismorphia has contributed to these poor souls delberately disfiguring themselves. And shame on the surgeons for doing it to them! If that is ‘beauty’ I am happy being “plain” – its like the “Emperors New Clothes” someone needs to point out the bloody obvious!

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