Amidst the gloom of the global pandemic and economic slowdown, the idea of body inclusivity is turning out to be a ray of sunshine for the fashion and beauty industries. Many industry leaders and woke celebrities are now promoting body positivity, inclusivity and gender equality by turning the focus on “real” people and issues.
The demand for naturally fashionable ideas for women of all ages, sizes and shapes has forced glam gurus to think beyond the photo-shopped portrayal of beauty and body sizes. This summer, digital campaigns by fashion and beauty brands highlight the issues of colourism, plus sizes, age, and gender bias prevalent in Indian society. In an attempt to change the mindset and break stereotypes, top brands take the marketing route.
For far too long, the definition of physical perfection in the fashion industry has been at best a narrow one. For those who believe that beauty and fashion are expressions of personality, the concept of “plus-size” clothing isn’t just a trend. Fashion expert Shaan Shah, COO of Freakins, remarks, “As a part of this industry, we must promote women and men to truly be themselves and push them to be comfortable in their own skins. With the global re-evaluation of conventional beauty standards, people have now started accepting beauty for what it is — and that is — Real! A lot of brands are celebrating and integrating physical diversity into their models, clothing, pictures, etc. This is the future — being imperfect and inevitably flawed is being natural, and natural is what’s beautiful.”
We live in an era that is finally waking up to the reality of celebrating beauty in all its shapes and forms. Today, brand campaigns dovetail with the larger sentiment of inclusiveness and realistic beauty standards. Despite the awareness, however, there is a vast canvas yet to be covered when it comes to ideas about the “ideal” body that are deeply entrenched in society. Amrit Shah, creative director of Shanti Banaras, says, “I don’t know how quickly this change will come, but the trend has moved from being all about beauty to being a lot about character and personality, humility and knowledge.” He shares that the company’s latest fashion campaign salutes inclusivity with a photo essay called Akhatya. “Our transgender models in Banarasi sarees celebrate their inner beauty and power by bringing together yin and yang energies,” he adds.
Beauty isn’t perfect
Influencers, models, and even the girl next door are now driving conversations around body positivity, makeup-free faces and conscious, clean beauty, says Stuti Sethi, brand manager at Plum Body Lovin’. Sharing the concept behind their latest digital campaign, she says, “#LoveEveryInch is a campaign that kickstarted with our brand launch. The call for being free from the confines of any beauty standards is the right one, and with these standards changing constantly, it seems safe to say that the only perfect body is the one we have.” She adds that the real change will be seeing people evolve and accept others as they are. “Perhaps, a few years down the line we will never have to discuss body positivity again,” she says, hopefully.
The idea of highlighting real beauty and encouraging body positivity through a strong brand message is the need of the hour. The more inclusive you are, the more you connect with the modern consumers. There is greater confidence among the new generation of consumers, and they are ready to break the barriers and move away from traditional ideals of beauty and body images, feels Manish Chowdhary, co-founder of Wow Skin Science. He says, “Celebrities like Serena Williams, Kate Winslet, Vidya Balan and Sonakshi Sinha have been very vocal about their ideas of beauty and self-acceptance. With the demise of unrealistic beauty standards, young girls have more real-time examples of experts talking about body issues and beauty problems on social media.”
“In the coming years, the beauty and glamour industry will have to stop selling unrealistic dreams and making false claims. The brands will have to be very transparent about ingredients used and deliver visible results to the consumers. It is going to be a major learning curve for most beauty and fashion brands in the country. They will have to develop products that match the current ideologies.”
— Manish Chowdhary, co-founder of Wow Skin Science.