The fashion industry gets a lot of blame for its unrealistic beauty standards. Often it’s for a good reason, no doubt. What tends to go amiss is that unlike in any other community, there are people in fashion that engage in the conversation about said standards. Take my guilty pleasure – America’s Next Top Model. OK, so it’s hardly an accurate portrayal of the world of fashion. Not all models constantly verge on a nervous breakdown. ASBO isn’t a requirement on every photographer’s CV. But, Tyra Banks is an industry veteran. Underneath the drama that brings in the ratings, Banks is still trying to challenge certain expectations. The winner of its 10th cycle was Whitney Thompson – a plus sized model. One of the current season favourites is Chantelle Brown-Young who suffers from vitiligo. The skin condition causes pigments to disappear, which results in her unusual skin. Being exceptionally beautiful helps, but Chantelle has moved past the bullying of her childhood. She’s now made it her thing and it’s both an advantage and a disadvantage. She’s said so herself; it will make some people want to work with her, and others not. That’s how life works – some people will like you, others won’t. Chantelle is quite inspiring in that she’s acknowledged it, and that she works with what she’s got. That’s all you can do.
Another model that isn’t your average embodiment of perfection is Moffy. She’s gorgeous, don’t get us wrong, but Moffy is cross-eyed. Not even one lazy eye that sometimes wanders away but really, really cross-eyed. And yet, she looks insanely cool. Maybe it’s because a little imperfection can’t actually turn a person into a total Quasimodo. Ellie, the model we shot for our AW14 lookbook also had strange eyes – her eyes didn’t develop fully, resulting in her cat-look eyes.
Moffy. Ph by Hanna Moon
Ellie. But, not every fault results in a quirky look. Some are almost mundane – the everyday things, like wrinkles. We tend to see time as our worst enemy and so the fight against it is relentless. While the cosmetic industry reaps billions, Noa Zilberman goes the exact opposite way. The Israeli artist has created a jewelry line that emphasises wrinkles. The four-piece collection fills her wrinkles, so instead of hiding them, she celebrates them.
In April Leandra Medine of Man Repeller wrote one of the best fashion and beauty related things
I’ve read all year long. Someone called her ‘ugly as fuck’, and instead of taking offense, she said Man Repelling is a state of mind, an attitude. ‘A love letter to individuality,’ she called it. “I am who I am and even if that infers “ugly as fuck,” I think it’s, I don’t know, beautiful.” So what if your version of beautiful is different from mine? This spring London department store Selfridges gave chance for eight unknown faces to define their own version of beauty. Their campaign Beauty Project included a photography project ‘Hello Beautiful
’. German photographer Norbert Schoerner shot an ad campaign of unretouched images. Everyone gets to be beautiful in their own way. It coincided with a number of talks on beauty, vanity and body alterations. One of the talks was entitled The History of Beauty and Ugliness. Led by design critic Stephen Bayley, his take on beauty is simple: “Ugliness is superior to beauty because it lasts longer.” Rings true, so why not embrace it? The trend towards it is a baby step, but nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction. Definitions of beauty differ, and this trend shows slow and steady the world is catching on.