Authentic Beauty in a Filtered World
Photography by Meg Niemann | @MSNPhotography
In a world where facetune and and photoshop prevail, it’s hard to distinguish what’s real and what isn’t. Today’s beauty standards seem more unrealistic than ever before, putting stressful, unhealthy beauty stands on young women, especially throughout critical moments in their lives when bodies are changing and growing into their own.
I think it’s time the fashion and beauty industries take a stance on spreading body positivity and mental health awareness so women across the globe can feel beautiful as their true, authentic selves. There are so many times we see an image in a magazine and feel bad about our bodies, our skin, or our hair, when in reality that image was most likely photoshopped dozens of times.
I incorporated the word “Honestly” in the name of my blog because I felt like there was a lack of genuine authenticity in the world of fashion and beauty, especially in the blogosphere I work in. I still feel that lack of authenticity now, and I think it’s time we work harder to change it. It’s essential to be honest about who we are and how we feel, so we can embrace positivity and love ourselves on the inside as well as the out.
Beauty comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. It exists within us all. But I think these unrealistic beauty standards that are seen in fashion and on instagram are getting in the way — they make people feel uncomfortable with who they are and what they look like, when in reality everyone should feel empowered. I recognize that the industry I work in (and don’t get me wrong, I feel lucky to be a part of it) has some major flaws, and I hope everyone in the industry can work together to expose what true beauty is.
Mental health awareness and body positivity are two incredibly important topics for the industry to speak more loudly on. Why do so many young women feel isolated? Why don’t they feel beautiful when looking in the mirror? Choosing industry role models who have healthy eating and exercise habits, and who share their experiences and emotions without a filter is one way to help others recognize that the world of fashion and beauty isn’t as glamorous as it looks. Recognizing that reality isn’t perfect, that people have bad skin and hair days, and that everyone has struggles is a major way to address many mental health and body image concerns.
Aerie’s Girl Power, Body Positivity Campaign (#AerieREAL) is a great example for how the fashion industry should (and very well could) look. Casting women with all different body types and skin colors represents how diverse and beautiful our world is, and that there isn’t just one way to look (and there shouldn’t be!). This past summer, the fashion brand continued its ongoing body positivity campaign by featuring women with various diseases, disabilities, and medical conditions. Aerie has been fearlessly running these campaigns since 2014, but why aren’t there more brands doing the same thing?
When Winnie Harlow was named Breakthrough Model of the Year, she brought true beauty back into high fashion. Her inner self-love and fearlessness exude beauty, and every runway in fashion could see it. And she made others who perhaps deal with skin issues, or think they aren’t like everyone else, feel good about themselves, and feel beautiful. Winnie is a perfect example of what this industry should represent — but why can’t we see more models like her?
We live in a social media centric world, and I truly think we can use it to our advantage — to make people see the beauty in themselves. On that same note, I recognize how it can have the opposite effect, especially when facetune and photoshop are used so regularly. We need more models like Taylor Hill, who aren’t afraid to post selfies that show blemishes, and for social media influencers to speak about their struggles with weight, or their skin, or their feelings that aren’t always positive.
We need to expose our true selves and let go of the filters — because that’s real, that’s authentic, and that’s beautiful.