Over the course of the past few years, celebrating diversity in the world of beauty has become a hot topic. The issue of who gets to be visible in fashion shows, in the pages of major fashion publications, and in fashion and beauty campaigns has been researched, dissected, challenged, flipped, and turned on its head–only for consumers to be fed the typical representation of beauty that has always existed. This has led to a multitude of women and movements who are defining beauty on their own terms. But has the mainstream media really embraced this real wave of rebellion?
Take Allure’s April cover story for example. It’s a stunning issue that features Dilone, Imaan Hammam and Aamito Lagum. They talk about things like having curly hair and darker skin and being teased for those differences. These are the stories we know well. These are stories that deserve to be told. These are the stories that fuel Beyond Classically Beautiful and other websites that highlight these issues on a regular basis. But one would think since mainstream media has picked up on this and is actually covering this issue, the problem would be on its way out by now. Because isn’t that what we need—for the media to cover diverse beauty? But is the mainstream covering diversity with the sort of intensity and frequency that is necessary to spark real change? I say, no. When we talk about diversity in beauty, part of the problem is the way the media continues to cover and present beauty. They do “diversity” issues or stories like this once or twice, then things go right back to the way they were–Eurocentric beauty standards on full display. Not to mention, when tone deaf celebrities continue to appropriate various cultures and these same publications applaud them and go as far as giving these stolen aesthetics nicknames or catchy titles, can we really say the issue of diversity in beauty can be remedied by one cover story for the year? So why broach the conversation on diversity if it’s not done intentionally and on a constant basis?
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain spaces that are doing a good job (ELLE.com and Refinery29).
But when you open any of the given mainstream magazine you still see the same thing–white privilege on full display by some of the same faces we always see in ad campaigns; the same faces covered ad nauseum online; the same faces that dominate the media. So if mainstream is aware of the issue, why is “diversity in beauty” covered only once on the cover for the entire year? Why not actually SHOW diversity in beauty all year by balancing out the kind of women who appear in the magazine?
I challenge any publication to do a full year of exploring the glorious cultures that exist in our society–and not in a way in which these cultures are exoticized. We shouldn’t have to look back on the list of cover girls for the year and see the same names and faces. I don’t have the numbers on how many white women appear on mainstream magazines, but as a subscriber of at least three major fashion publications, I can say not much has really changed.
So please, don’t broach the topic of diversity in beauty if it’s not going to be the order of the day. That’s the only real way to rid our society of bogus beauty standards.