90-60-90. FOR YEARS THE FASHION AND THE BEAUTY INDUSTRIES HAVE STICKED TO THIS MAGIC FORMULA, BUT TODAY THE NEW GENERATION SHOWS THAT BODY ACCEPTANCE CAN BREAK DOWN ANY AESTHETIC CANON. AND BEAUTY STANDARDS ARE CRUMBLING, LEAVING ROOM FOR VARIETY.
Millennials have always been criticised for everything, from being a destructive generation to being too web-addicted, empty and dull. If there’s something you can’t really blame the new generation for is of critical and strict on beauty standards. Indeed, one could say that millennials, through their body positivity, the promotion of self-acceptance and body acceptance, flaws included, are literally destroying those old canons, tearing them apart more and more every day.
Maybe the road is still long, but the impact of this new, open and positive thinking is already strong and is outlining the borders of a new beauty, revolutionising the industry and even being an actual problem for some fields.
If flaws and age signs were previously seen as something to hide, now they add that extra something to oneself, and even that famous mantra “90-60-90”, symbol of the aesthetic perfection par excellence, has now lost all its value. As we welcome 2017, finally there is no more space for body shamers, but only the love for our own body, for our skin and for our shapes, whatever they are. The consequences of what we can consider a mass revolution within the beauty industry are, as you can imagine, huge.
The first step is the abandonment of Photoshop. In this sense, a milestone has been the makeover of the famous Pirelli calendar, which, for the first time this year, has decided to give voice to another kind of beauty, more nuanced and closer to our time, showcasing a series of portraits depicting eclectic and talented women (Patti Smith, Tavi Gevinson, Amy Schumer), in a sensual yet not vulgar way, and, what’s more important, strictly unretouched. There are also brands that have not only embraced a very inclusive policy, but have also said no to Photoshop. Among these, there are the lingerie brands Aerie, promoter of the AerieREAL campaign that had as testimonial the beautiful, super young curvy model Barbie Ferreira, and Lonely, who presented an extremely feminine yet raw, frills-free campaign, starring Girls’ Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke.
Dunham herself is among the most active players on the front of body positivity. Not only her generational tv series Girls brought the normality of diversity to the small screen, prompting many other girls to accept and be happy with their bodies, but she has also written essays on the subject and has repeatedly complained publicly about magazines’ photo shoots that made her thinner through post-production.
And there’s a whole generation of artists and creatives ready to embrace the change, from the soft beauty promoted by Petra Collins’ photography to Jaden Smith’s gender fluid campaigns, from the amateur videos in which young filmmaker Amandla Stenberg teaches young black women to accept the uniqueness of afro hair up to Rookie Mag, the famous magazine by former prodigy blogger Tavi Gevinson that every day offers advice to young women helping them getting through adolescence without complexes linked to their appearance and their flaws.
If things could not get better for our mental health, for the beauty industry they might be a bit worse instead. Just some time ago, analyst Karin Grant had told WWD “For the last 10 years, it’s been lines, wrinkles, lines, wrinkles, but last year the sale of age-specialist products declined or the first time in years. It’s less about giving up and more about embracing who you are and what you are and how you look, and not feeling like you have to fit any mould.”
What is beauty then? We can no longer define it, and this freedom finally gives way to an infinite number of beautiful variations on the theme.
Text by Francesca Milano