One of our behind the scenes moments sparked an interesting thought for me. We had our RunwayRiot leadership meeting yesterday, and Iskra was excited for a photoshoot she had to do that had to be totally sans makeup. This sounds unbelievably exciting, but I recognize there are plenty of women who may not feel the same.
Now, we could take this move in the advertising world one of two ways. It could be really frustrating for women who are not the stereotypical version of genetically #blessed, or it could be freeing and empowering. Both deserve some consideration.
At first, no makeup campaigns sound amazing. Showing women as they really are rather than some made up, airbrushed ideal. The problem is, that it can create a different one.
There are a plethora of individuals who find comfort in makeup because it helps them cover up the parts of themselves they don’t really love including acne, trauma scars, and unwanted blemishes. Contouring can make cheekbones look higher, noses look smaller, and eyes bigger. We never criticize makeup because it helps someone look like their best version of themselves; it helps them feel beautiful.
If we take away the makeup, we also take away some women’s security blankets. Ashley VanPevenage and the mean responses she got from the internet taught us that this can be more painful than dealing with the scars themselves.
In a way, this creates a different world of inequality – one where women who are naturally blessed with clearer skin, smaller noses, bigger eyes, fuller lips, or the monetary means to pay for all of those things are the ones who become our representation. We can accept bigger hips, rolls on tummies, and some flab on biceps, but can we accept women who are not stereotypically beautiful in terms of their face?
I think we can, but just like the body-positive movement has taken some time, accepting a variety of faces will too.
Just like we are demanding to see women who aren’t a size 4, we’ll have to demand to see women with five-finger foreheads. Instead of just fighting for rolls, we’ll also have to fight to see a large nose. Acne scars, blemishes, and not-perfectly arched brows can be part of someone’s face who is beautiful, and they don’t have to define the person. Regular women have those along with stretch marks, cellulite, spider veins, and everything else.
I respect women who find this frightening – we as a society have yet to really embrace women of all sizes. But there’s a real opportunity here too. One that could change the way millions of women see themselves. There’s a chance here to make a difference for the women who don’t feel beautiful.
If we can make stretch marks into lovable stretchies and tiger stripes, I wonder what we can do with everything else. I’m excited to find out.