Model citizens

discuss how rising unconventional models have revolutionised our perceptions of beauty

As any reliable dictionary would tell you, beauty is defined as “a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.” This line of thought is so simple yet so essential, for nowhere does this definition utilise the terms blonde, skinny, curvy, hourglass, fair or any of the other labels that we have been associating with beauty.

An average girl’s perception of herself is reliant on an ever-changing fashion industry that dictates to her time and again what’s beautiful and what’s not. From the voluptuous blonde bombshell in the 1960s to the size zero fad that took over runways not too long ago, beauty has always been evolving and yet it has remained conventional through it’s ability to deem a certain look as beautiful and demean anyone who does not adhere to it.

Image: Nick Knight Show Studio

Image: Nick Knight Show Studio

However, recent years have seen an increase in demand for ‘unconventionally’ attractive models. A prominent example of this is Tess Munster, who, standing at 5ft 5in, wears a UK size 26. Signed onto Milk, a large mainstream modelling agency, Munster has been named by Vogue Italia as one of the top six plus size models in the world. Another emerging icon is Winnie Harlow. The model, who has the skin pigment condition vitiligo, was recently awarded the Beauty Idol gong at German magazine Gala’s Spa Awards 2015, having walked the runway for brands such as Desigual and Diesel. Munster and Harlow both are considered unusual beauties, not conforming to our cultural norm of what is considered, by and large, to be “classically” beautiful, yet are clearly very successful in their own right, redefining how we perceive the fashion world.

However, there is something perverse about the way in which these women are considered oddities, the fact that individuals who are not thin or may not have flawless skin, stand out so glaringly. It is almost as though they are celebrated as being beautiful in spite of their quirks, and not including them, or indeed as a result of them.

Image: theplussizelife.blogspot.co.uk

Image: theplussizelife.blogspot.co.uk

Another driving force to promote unconventional beauty is Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. Launched in September 2004, this campaign came as a breath of fresh air, strongly committed towards widening the definition of beauty. With adverts and short films such as Evolution, Dove has targeted the unrealistic expectations set across the world in order to be considered beautiful. This movement is about much more than physical appearances and ideals of perfection. It is a call to women and young girls across the globe to embrace themselves the way they are, without conforming to society and its perception of beauty. It is about rebuilding their self esteem and their broken confidence in order for them to believe that they are indeed, beautiful and that no industry or society has the right to tell them otherwise.

The beauty industry is an entity which constantly shifts and changes, but whilst it is easy to accept red being in one day, blue the next, it is more difficult to come to terms with physical characteristics themselves waxing and waning in popularity. Beauty shouldn’t be defined, because it can’t be defined. If beauty has no price, then why must we give it a label?

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