Louisa

2024

the skin positivity movement explained

During Acne Awareness Month, we thought it was a good time to take a fresh look at evolution of the Skin Positivity movement and how people feel about this trend today. Is is something that has radically changed the beauty industry, or do the majority of beauty images that we see still showcase flawless, filter-perfected skin?


Skin positivity is part of a broader shift in the beauty industry towards inclusivity. Only a few years ago, the beauty industry was guided by an extremely narrow set of beauty ideals - think ultra lean body shapes, flawless skin, young models, limited ethnicities. For the majority of us, this set of beauty standards felt very detached from our own reality. 


So, what changed?

where it started


In 2015 a vlogger called Em Ford posted a video titled "You Look Disgusting", which received over 30 million views and made a huge impact in the beauty industry. 


Em showcased abusive comments that she had received when posting images of her real skin on social media, highlighting the terrible reality of reactions to skin conditions such as acne, and the impact that it can have on women and they way the feel about themselves vs established beauty standards. She has since gone on to use her platform to raise awareness around this issue, and has become one of the leading spokespeople of the #skinpositivity movement, promoting the acceptance of real beauty.

Over the following years, the beauty industry seemed to make a genuine shift towards a more realistic portrayal of beauty. 

em ford skin positivity acne awareness week beauty trends

The ages of models changed, with brands such as No7 using models that more accurately represented the age of women using their anti-aging skincare. More brands started to claim that images had not been retouched in adverts. Models like Winnie Harlow were used by leading fashion and beauty houses, demonstating the acceptance of skin conditions such as Vitiligo. In particular, the use of different bodyshapes became the norm, celebrated by brands such as Dove "Real Women, Real Beauty" advert campaign.

At last, it seemed that the beauty industry was moving to represent more realistic beauty standards.


In terms of skin positivity, influencers and users on social media encouraged the acceptance of real skin, aiming to create a community that  normalised showing real skin with all its "imperfections". It highlighted that often skin is in flux and aimed to empower everyone to feel good and beautiful in their own skin, celebrating what made us all unique and beautiful. Influencers such as @Lounorthcote help to push forward these conversations to encourage safe spaces for normal, real skin.


where we are now

So, what long-lasting impact did skin positivity have in the beauty industry? 


There is no doubt that it's much more acceptable / normal that it was 10 years ago to show skin imagery with texture, tone, freckles and stretchmarks. 

Online communities surrounding this issue are thriving, helping to normalise natural skin texture and helping community members to feel accepted and embrace their own skin.

woman with glowing beautiful skin

In these communities, acne is no longer taboo and can be openly discussed without judgement.

Brands are also much more realistic about advertising skincare dealing with conditions like acne, actually using models with textured skin (which, believe it or not, never used to be the case!). 


But has that had a long lasting impact across the whole of society, accepted beauty standards, and the beauty industry?


Unfortunately, probably not. K-beauty continues to drive trends such as glass or donut skin with a hyper-flawless asthetic. Social media filters still promote an ultra flawless look, and are widely used. Cosmetics brands continue to launch "flawless filter" foundations, and celebrities continue to be picked over the media if they step out of the house looking less than perfect. More disturbingly, younger generations are becoming more aware of this worship of flawless skin, most recently seen in trends like preventitative botox or the wild scenes of young children buying large amounts of powerful skincare for indepth skincare routines.


In 2024 skin positivity still exists, but is defintiely does not define the beauty industry. Accepted beauty standards might be broader than they were a decade ago, but they still have a long way to go before everyone feels fully accepted and confident in their own skin.



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