Are there other initiatives going on that are showcasing this message and positive vision of women and beauty? Is this becoming a trend?
We see quotes from supermodels like Kylie Bisutti, for example, who was featured last year on ABC News. She was working as an angel for Victoria’s Secret but decided to quit the industry, and she said that so many people think beauty is about physical appearance, but really it’s a heart issue. Another supermodel, Cameron Russell, said that models have the flattest abs and the skinniest thighs, but really they are some of the most insecure women, probably in the world.
There are small voices coming out as a kind of clarion call that we need to be reintegrating the heart in with beauty itself. But really, it’s easy to buy into it, and what we need to do is step back a little bit and think about what is authentic beauty and how can we be bringing that to the world.
I’m excited about the role that Verily has played in the cultural conversation by means of the no Photoshop policy, because that speaks to these principles in a language that popular culture can understand. All women everywhere can be grateful that they’re not going to have their imperfections Photoshopped away. That gives them permission to be who they naturally are.
After we had a lot of media coverage from the no Photoshop policy, there were a lot of other brands that began implementing these sorts of things. Recently, American Eagle, the popular brand that largely targets high school teen girls, launched an entire spring campaign called “Aerie Real” in which they don’t Photoshop any of their models and they don’t reduce their weight or their size, so everything you see is natural and unaltered. I think that’s an enormous step in the right direction for these teenage girls who are taking their cues from media. Philosopher Edith Stein says we’re searching for guideposts to understand ourselves and our place in the world, and media plays a huge role in that, especially for high school and teen girls, so I think that’s one initiative that is a huge positive step in the right direction.
There are also certain fashion brands, too, that are slowly stepping in this direction. There’s a huge trend toward vintage clothing, which is largely more modest than hyper-trendy clothes. Companies like Modcloth and Shabby Apple have a bent toward the vintage, but they also, in all of their imagery and photography, really uphold the dignity of women and step away from the hyper-sexualized standard that’s commonly proposed as beautiful. Even last year, the New York Times did a piece on why modesty is becoming “in vogue.”
A lot of these principles are relevant to consumerism. You put your money where your mouth is. If the buyer wants a certain standard, then the manufacturers and distributors have to follow suit. It’s actually very empowering for us as women to feel like we actually have a voice, whether that’s through our blogs, or the companies that we shop at, or the types of clothing that we buy, the media that we consume. So hopefully by continuing in that path we’ll continue to see progress as a trend. I think it will happen.