Aspirational Imperfection

Claudia de Brito discusses the need for realistic representation in the beauty industry


Claudia de Brito.
ITP Media Group

We’re used to seeing and hearing terms like flawless, fair and anti-aging in beauty campaigns fronted by photoshopped models and celebrities. Mainstream messaging is clear, look ‘perfect’, or go hide in your cave.

However, consumers and independent beauty companies have been fighting back and are finding some high profile allies. Singer Ciara recently took to Instagram to post a bare-faced selfie with the caption: “No makeup. No extensions. Vulnerable. My Beauty Marks and all. The real me... and I love it. Finally embracing myself fully! It feels good. Csquad! Join me in my #BeautyMarks journey and upload your rawest selfies at Don’t be afraid to let YOUR Beauty Marks show!”

Closer to home, a couple of months ago, Dubai-based health and travel journalist, Danae Mercer (@danaemercer), started posting side by side comparisons demonstrating how certain poses, angles and lighting can expose or disguise what we’ve come to consider imperfections. A perfectly curated ‘instapose’ is juxtaposed with a candid shot of a bloated belly or lighting that makes cellulite or stretchmarks more visible. The messages of support have poured in and she seems to have inspired a movement. Middle East Beauty contributor Gemma Ward (@notsoperfectdubaidiva) has also gotten in on the action with an aspirational and imperfect picture from her recent beach holiday. Again, the support has been considerable.

Don’t get me wrong. As long as it’s safe, I believe that people should be able to do whatever they need to in order to feel comfortable in their skin. I wear makeup. Sometimes lots of it. I love the artistry that goes into creating a look. I also love this industry, but it’s largely responsible for creating the unrealistic beauty standards that most of us struggle with. I hold my breath whenever I get tagged in a picture because the likelihood is that I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time picking out my imperfections. I’m working on it, but big beauty brands need to work on it too. Dove’s campaign for ‘Real Beauty’ started the conversation 10 years ago but we still live in time where it’s considered brave to post an unfiltered picture on social media. That has to change.

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