Inclusive beauty is a subject that deserves our attention. Today's beauty standards, long influenced by a narrow, exclusive vision, need to evolve. They have marginalized a large part of the population neglecting the rich human diversity we see all around us.
This shift towards a more inclusive approach is not only desirable, it's necessary. It's time to question these standards and promote a new norm that reflects the diversity and authenticity of each individual.
In this article, we'll explore the different ways of making inclusive beauty not the exception, but the rule.
The very real dangers of unrealistic ideals
For decades, retouched images of ultra-thin models and celebrities with facially perfect features have projected a feminine ideal that is totally unattainable for the majority of women. This insidious objectification and sexualization of the female body in marketing and the media has had a devastating impact on women. deeply devastating effects on several generations of young girls and women.
Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated a link between regular exposure to these unrealistic representations of the "ideal" female physique and low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression, social anxiety, and general dissatisfaction with one's own
Young girls constantly compare their developing bodies to these fantasy images, and then internalize a sense of failure when it's impossible to reach these standards.
This has created a relentless quest for thinness at all costs, fueling dangerous diets, cosmetic surgery, and even in some cases anorexia, bulimia, and other disorders leading to hospitalization and death. Instead of celebrating natural morphological diversity, this unhealthy glorification has inflicted lasting damage.
Similarly, masculinity has long been narrowly defined by muscularity, physical strength, and emotional invulnerability. These simplistic media portrayals of men neither reflect nor empower the majority of them.
They create toxic pressure to conform to an unrealistic athletic mold, leading to a gym obsession, the use of anabolic steroids, and the crushing of emotions.
It's high time to reject these reductive stereotypes and adopt an inclusive definition of beauty that values individuals in all their true diversity of appearance, gender, ethnicity, age, abilities, and personal expression.
We urgently need varied, multidimensional, and authentic representations in media and advertising that reflect the rich range of human experience rather than propagate unattainable fantasies.
Age, size, race, physical ability, or gender identity should in no way limit the fundamental right of every individual to feel beautiful, attractive, and valued. Beauty is a fluid state that manifests itself at every stage of life. It transcends skin tones, morphological types, differences in ability, and gender expression.
We need photographs and artworks that celebrate beauty through the ages - the wrinkles and age spots as spectacular as the smooth complexion of youth. Plus-size and petite models should be represented equally, reflecting real diversity rather than a single idealized slim body.
The pigmentation of the skin in all its nuances deserves to be highlighted, not bleached or hidden under the foundation.
Proactive brands that embrace and celebrate diversity in their marketing campaigns and choice of models are helping to normalize and value unconventional role models who have been marginalized for too long.
The increased visibility of people with disabilities, limb or height differences, or visible illness in advertising, adapted fashion shows, and fashion magazines is helping to broaden restrictive definitions of beauty.
Similarly, the growing transgender and non-binary visibility on TV, film, and catwalks challenges narrow binary notions of gender and beauty. With positive representations, we can collectively learn to admire beauty in all its forms of human expression.
Valuing our differences for inclusive beauty
Each individual possesses a unique appeal and beauty based on the totality of his or her natural physical traits and singular personality. Instead of desperately trying to conform to a generic mold, we should learn to cherish and enhance the specific qualities that make us wonderfully different.
Our so-called "imperfections" are in fact our trademarks. Instead of seeing stretch marks, scars, enlarged pores, crooked teeth, vitiligo, acne, or baldness as shameful flaws to be concealed, let's flaunt them with pride. They tell the story of our lives and our journey towards self-acceptance. Let's joyfully and fully embrace what makes us unique.
Likewise, instead of smoothing over or camouflaging our prominent noses, moles, freckles, frizzy hair, or other distinctive features, let's enhance them as touches of character that make our faces interesting and memorable. These markers of identity make us beautiful because they belong to us.
Unfortunately, current society pushes for artifice, making it appear that gimmicks like cosmetic surgery, fillers, artificial tanning, hair extensions, colored lenses, excessive contouring, and even “blackfishing” are necessary to achieve a so-called “ideal” appearance.
But in reality, it is authenticity that is the true essence of beauty and attractiveness. People are magnetically attracted to those who fully embrace their natural appearance. So let's be proud of our unadorned appearance, our bare skin and our natural hair. Let's show off our washed faces and our makeup-free bodies without shame.
Unretouched and unfiltered selfies and photos are liberating, rejecting the dictates of perfection. “No makeup” or light makeup that highlights our unique features rather than changing everything is also a positive trend. Radical honesty with yourself and others is the key to authentic beauty.
Not just a trend
Although diversity and inclusiveness are currently trending in brand marketing and media content, they should not be treated as just fleeting trends destined to fade away once their buzz value fades. Otherwise, we risk quickly returning to the discriminatory dictates of the past.
The engagements in favor of diversity and broader beauty standards must be authentic, lasting, and translated into concrete actions. This means increasing inclusive representation at all levels of the fashion and beauty industry, not just in front of the cameras and on the catwalk.
Diversity among photographers, editors, designers, hairstylists, makeup artists, producers, and executives influences culture more deeply and lastingly. Quotas can help ensure castings reflect actual demographic makeup. Mentoring and training of underrepresented groups is also essential to diversifying beauty industry experts.
Education and Awareness
For lasting social change toward an inclusive beauty culture, we must actively combat internalized prejudice and intolerance from a young age. This starts with ensuring that school curricula, children’s books, and media content aimed at young people positively reflect the diversity of appearances, abilities, and gender expressions in order to normalize differences.
Parents, teachers, and educators have a vital role to play in helping children develop a positive body image, self-esteem, and respect for all appearances. Open and honest discussions about diversity can build empathy and counter discriminatory attitudes.
More broadly, national awareness campaigns in schools about self-acceptance, mental health and the dangers of unrealistic ideals can promote a culture of kindness and mutual respect. Laws requiring labeling of retouched photos also raise public awareness of the illusions of misleading images that do not reflect reality. Together, let's make beauty truly inclusive.
True beauty, both internal and external, lies in the joyful acceptance of our shared humanity in all its diversity of lived experiences. Instead of judging ourselves or others based on narrow standards, celebrate the unique qualities of each individual. Everyone deserves to feel visible, valued, and represented in their uniqueness.
Expanding our collective definitions of beauty to encompass the full range of skin tones, body shapes, sizes, abilities, ages, and gender expressions brings out what is universally human in us all beneath the surface. Inclusive beauty reflects our common essence rather than our superficial differences. This is the true face of beauty.