Of Being Body Positive And Combating Unrealistic Beauty Standards
There's no denying the fact that we are all suckers for a good concealer that would help us hide that protruding outbreak on the skin and make us look 'artificially' flawless and glam just before stepping out for an event or a social gathering. So, whether it's a prolonged acne problem, menstrual acne or a random, sudden outbreak, a good concealer is your only hope and the best option to cover the 'flaws'. Oh, and of course, when it comes to posting a picture perfect selfie on social media, a little help from online software such as Photoshop to airbrush the 'faults' and make the skin look fresh and unblemished, is no big deal. Isn't it?
Well, not just that. It's also not a big deal when a girl wishes that she was a tad bit slimmer, taller or fairer. And that's because, that is exactly how we are raised to think. We can't think of a dark-skinned girl being able to make it on the cover page of a fashion magazine (an African model recreated ads featuring 'white models' to promote racial diversity) or expect a supermodel to make a red carpet appearance flaunting acne (Kendall Jenner was slammed on social media for appearing on the Golden Globes red carpet sporting the 'deadly' outbreak under her makeup).
(Photo: Raffael Dickreuter/Secret of DD website)
(Photo: Supermodel Kendall Jenner at Golden Globes red carpet/ Reuters)
But, such a mindset isn't to be blamed completely. Cosmetic giants and skincare brands contribute a fair amount to influence mindsets. The thoughtless advertisements that promote fair skin over and above any other skin tone as well as high, unrealistic beauty standards set by airbrushing celebrity photos to make them look more appealing and desirable (Priyanka Chopra's flawless armpits on a magazine cover had made headlines back in the day for being Photoshopped), are to be blamed too.
Consequently, this kind of an approach by girls at large -- to conceal what's real and flaunt the unreal, to feel ashamed or embarrassed to embrace one's own skin and body type and accept the imperfections -- can be attributed largely to the generic idea of 'looking good', which doesn't encourage one to embrace flaws, instead, inspires to conceal.
It's alarming to see how females are shamed for being on the heavier side of the weighing scale, being called out for having a bad hair day, post-surgery scars, sporting armpit hair and more. And it's long before all of this ends. However, small steps to change mindset and encourage girls/women to embrace their skin and body are being taken. In fact, body positive movements such as The Body Positive initiatives, are slowly but gradually becoming frequent on social media.
Credit: @The Body Positive
Also, several Hollywood celebrities have come out and spoken about the skin problems they face including actresses Miley Cyrus, Pixie Lott, Cameron Diaz, Rihanna, Eva Longoria among others, to showcase having skin problems is something that everyone faces and it's not something that one needs to be embarrassed or ashamed about. In fact, recently, Kendall Jenner took to Instagram to shut down haters after she was criticised for walking the Golden Globes red carpet flaunting acne.
After this incident, a lot of Instagram users are now sharing makeup-free selfies, or flaunting their acne using the hashtag 'acne positivity' and showing how much difference makeup can make and why one should never fall for any 'flawless' pictures that one comes across on social media (since almost all of them are Photoshopped). A lot of users also posted pictures of their most-affected areas of the skin and captioned them in a way as to convey how the have learnt to accept their scars.
Credit: @B's knees
Credit: @Mumtahana Elahi
Indeed, the use of Photoshop on photos has been a topic of debate in the fashion industry for past couple of years. Most recently, pharmaceutical giant CVS pledged not to digitally alter the images it uses in commercials, as marketing material or on social media. It pledged not to retouch or change "a person's shape, size, proportion, skin or eye colour or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles or other individual characteristics."
Before this, lingerie brand Aerie advocated the use of unedited pictures, fashion giants Asos and Missguided backed their models' stretch marks and in 2015, some unaltered pictures of Beyonce and Cindy Crawford were intentionally leaked online, provoking an outpouring of public support for the elimination of what many deem to be unrealistic beauty standards.
And while a lot is being done globally to combat these strange and unrealistic beauty standards, back at home, not much is being done to spread awareness, except for the fashion industry organising plus-size fashion shows and backing the inclusivity concept by choosing models from different backgrounds for the shows. In fact, the television commercials promoting skin lightening creams featuring B-town celebrities, who, so to say have the power to influence an audience, are an icing on the cake. Also, notably, while a lot of Hollywood celebrities have come out in the open and spoken about their skin and body problems, except for a few actresses including Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor, no other Bollywood star has 'really' impactfully spoken about body positivity or their personal struggles with weight or any other 'imperfections' in public.
But, this is more than just a star coming out and speaking about the problems she faced. This is about changing the mindset of every girl who believes that a blemish could make her look ugly, who believes that fat shaming is justified since 'looking good' is all about flat abs and a slender frame. It's about encouraging every girl to be who she is, to embrace all the 'flaws' and 'imperfections' and to flaunt with confidence what she has and what she is.