The Reality of Beauty: Brands Focusing On Real Women
For what seems like forever we, as women, have struggled to meet an unattainable standard of beauty. Sadly, this seems to be the norm for beauty across cultures. When it comes to body size, age, ethnicity, and more, inclusivity has been lacking from the beauty industry.
According to media, advertisements, and many many brands, we are not allowed to age, have uneven skin, be darker or lighter than a certain shade, or larger or smaller than a specific size. Although it is refreshing to see things changing through body positivity campaigns, inclusive makeup brands, and brands ending photoshopping, we have a long way to go. It is still shocking to see how only a few brands have made this a focus. There are plenty of magazines that may have stopped photoshopping, but still feature ads with intense editing. We are not talking about airbrushing a zit or altering an unflattering shadow, but rather completely changing how a woman looks from head to toe.
I’m sure you have seen all the befores and afters from the past decade. Just to name a few… breasts are enlarged, faces are slimmed, waistlines are cinched, and hair appears fuller.
Authenticity is severely lacking from the beauty industry. Although it is a woman’s choice what she does with her beauty, what we see is not always in our control. From TV ads, to algorithms on social media, and even the choice of online models to the size of mannequins displays, we cannot escape this idea that women should look one way. We do have a partial responsibility to remain aware of these unrealistic expectations in order to counteract the negative effects, but you would think by now this would not be so prevalent.
Recently, two stars of the CW’s hit show Riverdale, Camila Mendes and Lili Reinhart were featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan. And although the US version of the magazine and media empire let the women’s natural beauty shine through, Cosmopolitan Philippines posted photos of the girls with drastically narrower waist lines. Both of the ladies clapped back, and drew attention to how these unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for women can do severe harm on someone’s self-image. In 2018, you would think we would be beyond this type of editing, but apparently not.
Brands such as Target and ASOS have recently limited the photoshopping on their models. Numerous brands are following this lead, but unfortunately, this is still a wildly popular practice around the globe. Recently I have seen magazines photoshop a woman’s underarm to be smoother, I have seen fashion sites blur a girl’s kneecaps, and we have all seen the horrendous thigh gap editing fails. This is not okay. When it comes to changing how women look, and how women expect themselves to look, this is bigger than a bit of blurring. Whether the model is an everyday woman, a model, or a celebrity, these are all real women behind the camera. But what we see once it is in print is no longer real. And that matters. When the women we see 50+ times a day online or in magazines are portraying only 3% of what the population actually looks like (or are completely computer generated) there is a problem.
Not only is it insane to shop for yourself when your are basing your opinion on what a digitally altered model looks like, but even shopping in store with a mannequin that is too thin for a size XS is daunting, and honestly quite infuriating. We have the power to rise above it, but when it is all you see that is easier said than done. This goes for both the beauty and fashion industries. Is the goal of using lash inserts in an ad for mascara to sell more mascara or make women believe this is how their lashes should look? To me, the only thing advertisements like this are good for is unreliability.
If we, as women, continue to support these brands that portray real women, we too can shake up the industry. We want inclusivity across the board for every race, every body shape, every age, and everything else. Beauty brands took notice when everyone praised Fenty Beauty. So let us praise the crap out of the other brands that make real women the focus of their ads, their sales, and their products. Just a few to keep an eye on, and share your love for are...
So what can we do to make it better? What can we do to make all brands listen up? Well Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty made waves, broke boundaries, and launched a movement in the beauty industry. With a massively inclusive shade range that was selling like avocados in LA, other brands took notice. Some not quickly enough (looking at you Tarte), but soon after Fenty’s launch various brands took the hint and expanded their shade ranges to suit women of all ethnicities. This was a huge step for the beauty community.
Similarly, Aerie launched their #AerieREAL campaign a couple of years ago. And since then, they have seen a massive growth in sales. They no longer photoshop any of their models. On top of that, they feature models with cellulite, acne scars, stretch marks, and more of the things that make women individual, unique, and beautiful. When a brand takes steps like this, it builds trust with the customer. Not to mention it makes shopping a hell of a lot easier. Actually seeing someone that looks like you, wearing the clothes you want, is amazingly empowering.
Dove has launched their campaign #RealBeauty to fight the stigma that women have faced for years, and to empower women into owning what makes them unique. Dove continues to launch new segments of this mission throughout the year. Each of these launches shares stories from strong women, and how they think of beauty.
A while back, Dear Kate launched an ad campaign called The Perfect Body to slap back at a one size fits all idea of beauty and body image. They shared a collective photoshoot featuring 10 women of varying ethnicities, shapes, and styles. They continue to promote female empowerment through their apparel that is meant to offer you a worry free period.
Glossier has launched some of the most simplistic yet unique products in the last couple of years. But their customers always return as they keep it real. From their models, to their social channels, and especially their Body Hero launch, Glossier makes it a priority to leave no stone unturned. They represent all colors, all skin types, all body shapes, and even all styles.
These are just a few of the amazing brands that are redefining beauty in the media and the beauty industry. If we can continue to support such brands then we can shout loud enough for every brand that falls short of inclusivity to hear us. They will not have a choice, but to make a change when we are the ones defining beauty and what we want it to represent.
Let us know in the comments section. what your favorite inclusive, body positive, and photoshop free brands are. Whether it be fashion, beauty, or anything else, we want to hear about it, and spread the word. No one should ever feel limited, unworthy, or underrepresented.
Photo Credit: cover photo via lsunow.com, first photo via @FentyBeauty, second photo via Flare Magazine, third photo via @LiliReinhart, fourth photo via byrdie.com, fifth photo via @Aerie, sixth photo via @Dove, seventh photo via theodysseyonline.com, and eighth photo via glossier.com.