Lets get a little personal here, I’m Nisa and I’m the blogger behind ‘Redefine BeYOUtiful’. I started this campaign because, as a young woman, I find that we are so often pressured by advertisers to look a certain way. I felt as though, so many young women find it so difficult to be completely comfortable in their own skin because they are constantly told that they are not good enough and thus need a certain product to be and feel beautiful. I’ve always been somewhat resilient in the face of these kinds of pressures but I noticed, before creating this campaign, that often my conversations with my girlfriends would lead to discussions about how their eyebrows are not on-fleek enough, they don’t have Kendall Jenner’s thigh gap or “I can’t wear that crop top, look at this (nonexistent) muffin top”. I never understood it, but then I found myself researching eyelash extensions.
There’s definitely a trend in today’s society for young women to have long lashes and when you don’t, you alter yourself to look that way either by putting on eyelash extensions or applying copious amounts of mascara. This caused me to ask – when and why has natural lashes become a liability? It’s only then that I realised that there is a growing trend in the advertising industry today, to scrutinise one’s eyelashes. Needless to say, becoming one of the main contributors to our insecurities with our lashes – such a small part of our faces but one that has generated millions of dollars for the beauty industry.
Beauty Redefined, wrote a wonderful post giving us 9 reasons to ignore every ad ever and embrace your eyelashes. And we’d love for you to have a read of it!
I think we need a reality check to realise that the features we are born with are good enough. We don’t need to constantly change ourselves to be, and especially feel, beautiful. I know it’s harder said than done but lets make a conscious effort to embrace our natural lashes – because they’re beautiful, even if advertisers tells us otherwise.
A study found that almost a third of women say they would sacrifice a year of life to achieve the ideal body weight and shape” (http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/08/swinson.airbrushing.ads/)
We’re all aware of the fact that beauty and fashion advertisers employ all kinds of tools to persuade us to buy their products; after all, this is the basis of the industry – to sell stuff. But there’s something seriously disturbing about the finding above. Why? Because you are sacrificing a year of life for an extremely distorted idea of normal, beautiful, attainable and health.
Let’s be aware of some of the tactics that the industry uses to sell their products
Unrealistic representation of women as extremely thin:
This is done by either the consistent use of models and celebrities who are much thinner than the vast majority of the population, fitting their ideal of beauty, or by manipulating their models digitally to suit the idea… or worst: both. Now, there is nothing wrong with being skinny, we’re not skinny bashing here but there is something seriously wrong about distorting definitions of beauty to make people buy your product.
Lighting and angles
When we think of what tricks the advertising industry uses to make their models look “good”, we think of the obvious – Photoshop – when the truth is lighting, angles also play a role. Professional photographers know how to make people look good just by enhancing the light or making them tilt a certain angle.
You’d think that when they sell a product, they would sell the trust so that your expectations don’t fall short when you come to use the product. But truth is, in most ads, you’re not seeing the 100% natural – the model’s curls… probably extensions. And their long eyelashes… probably false eyelashes.
It’s important to realise that beauty as defined by advertisers are extremely skewed and it’s even more vital that in light of being aware about their tricks of the trade, that we should aim to change the definition of beauty and make it our own.
When we flick through a magazine, pass a billboard or see a TV ad for a new beauty product or fashion trend, we may feel a little bit intimidated or self-conscious. Maybe you can’t help but ask, “why aren’t I that skinny” or “why don’t I have porcelain skin”, but at the end of the day, on
a subconscious level, you take comfort in knowing that someone out there has spent hours Photoshop-ing the image to achieve that level of perfection. From smoothing the skin, removing wrinkles and/or slimming the waist and even where it is one of those ‘all natural’ campaigns, you know there is bound to be expensive lighting and a myriad of filters adopted to achieve that ‘natural perfection’. We know these images don’t reflect reality and we take some comfort in that, although we may still desire to look as perfect as those portray.
We’re sick and tired of being fed these digitally constructed people, so it makes sense that we turn to bloggers and Instagramers for inspiration… since at the end of the day, they’re real people, not some unrealistic and unattainable model. But truth of the matter is, as we increasingly turn to social media, namely Instagram, for sources of fashion and beauty, marketers have began to realise this too and followed our steps. From traditional bloggers, Instagram bloggers and YouTubers, there are so many people on social media today who are essentially, brand ambassadors. Sure, their posts are not as unrealistically constructed as traditional media platforms, but at the end of the day, they have to induce you into buying products too and one of the main ways they do so is to show you “beauty” that can be attained from these products. And the thing is, we buy it and feel inferior… because we think they are portraying ‘real beauty’.
Truth is she wasn’t born with it, she just put Valencia on it. In a survey 57% of women admit to regularly editing their own social media pictures to enhance appearances and social media brand ambassadors are notorious for doing so. Now, we’re not just talking adding filters on a photo but what we’re talking about is the use of editing apps to slim down their things, flatter their tummies, achieve perfect skin and perfectly white teeth. While falling short of the overly Photoshopped images of women in magazines, there is still a lot of work that gets put in by brand ambassador, working in collaboration with advertisers, to make the perfect photo which portray what that foundation or new dress can do to make you look ‘beautiful’.
So in essence, before your pour your self-worth on the fact that you not only don’t live up to magazine portrayals of beauty, but you also don’t live up to what you see on Instagram… think about this first. Your definition of beauty should not be wasted on the ‘fake’ representations of beauty portrayed both on online and traditional media by advertisers. It’s more important that you love yourself for the real and inner beauty that you’re all about.
We will be starting a series called “Humans of Redefine BeYOUtiful” – We want to hear from you! What do you think makes you beautiful? Is it your birthmark, your sense of humour or your smile? We want to know what your tips are for young women struggling to live up to the unobtainable definitions of beauty portrayed by advertisers!
Here is our first Human of Redefine BeYOUtiful:
“Simple things can be beautiful in and of itself. I’ve always been taught to be kind and caring to my friends, so I always endeavor to do this. What I may find beautiful isn’t the same as how others define beauty so I won’t let advertisers set an unrealistic standard for me. Instead, I focus on accepting myself and being more confident in my own skin”
Let us know!
Redefine BeYOUtiful wants you to change the conversation surrounding beauty and include ‘inner’ and ‘real’ beauty as part of your definition. Why? We all know that advertisers, on mainstream and even social media always try to portray unattainable definitions of beauty to get you to buy the products but for some reason we still let it effect us! Many young women continue to suffer from poor self-esteem, lack of body confidence and even contributed to depression and eating disorders in extreme circumstances.
We think, and we know you do too, that it’s time that to change the conversation surrounding beauty because beauty is multilayered so don’t let advertisers tell you you’re not pretty enough or perfect enough because you are beYOUtiful.
You define beauty, not advertisers! Watch this space.