There’s no better way to waste time than a good old-fashioned skim of your Facebook newsfeed, am I right? Rarely is there anything exceptionally important there. Maybe a recipe or two, or perhaps a funny meme your friend tagged you in. But yesterday, in my casual jaunt through that endless scroll , I stopped when I saw this headline from PopSugar: Gucci’s Latest Beauty Campaign Stars a Model with Down Syndrome, and It’s Beautiful.
I clicked through, read the piece, looked at the photos. Yes, indeed, 18-year-old model Ellie Goldstein looks stunningly beautiful as she models in elaborate Gucci attire the brand’s latest mascara. What an opportunity for the teen to join four other models in the campaign, a project that PopSugar reports “continues to support the company’s overall goals of ‘supporting emerging talents and promoting the theme of unconventional and non-stereotypical beauty.'”
I closed the tab in my browser, concluded my Facebook scrolling break, and went back to my work-from-home to-do list that my job presented for the day.
But as I resumed my work, I had a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t put my finger on it for some time, pounding out emails as the feeling lingered, as I felt the back of my brain turning it over like a Rubik’s cube until I landed on the right combination of thoughts that gave me the answer I was searching for.
The headline. That story. That’s what left me feeling the way I felt.
Once I identified the source of my preoccupation, I knew instantly why I felt as I did. I’ve spent a lot of time reading and writing about the beauty and fashion industries, especially inclusivity in those realms. Yes, the industries are making great strides in presenting people of different colors, gender identities, abilities, and body shapes and forms. From Tess Holliday to Valentina Sampaio, Winnie Harlow to Kennedy Walsh, fashion brands and beauty companies using these models are doing a world of good to show the spectrum of what ‘beauty’ truly is — it is unique and special, inherent to each individual person and something that is there no matter perceived ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfections.’ These brands and industries have done much to advance representation in advertising, finally giving the world a mirror with which to finally see themselves represented in mass media.
So what exactly was it that left me feeling as I did from the great news that a major, high-fashion brand like Gucci made Goldstein the face of their new mascara?
Simply the fact that this is still a headline today.
We have come a long way — in society and in the industries that populate our society. But the fact is there is still work to be done to achieve true inclusivity. We all need to be seeing models like Goldstein — like Tess Holliday, Valentina Sampaio, Winnie Harlow, Kennedy Walsh and countless others — much more often. In fashion and beauty campaigns for brands of all tiers, in run-of-the-mill TV advertisements for grocery stories or household cleaning products, in any and all kinds of advertisements and media forms that exist in the world.
These models represent the whole of our society and our world. They show us that beauty does not come in a one-size-fits-all box, and all we have to do is buy this one simple product, unwrap it, use it daily, and we’ll all transform into 6-foot-tall, slender, lusciously-maned runway models. It comes in all the unique forms and features that make up who we are as individuals, no matter the size label in our favorite pair of jeans, the scars on our bodies, the abilities we may have, the gender with which we identify, the color of our skin. We are all deserving of the label ‘beautiful’ simply because we exist in this world.
What matters today is that we continue to celebrate milestones like those of Goldstein and others who make their way to the fore of mass media to make one more dent in achieving true inclusivity and representation. What matters today is that we use such headlines as fuel to keep pushing for more inclusivity and representation, across every brand and industry, every office building and work place. What matters today is that we know and fully believe that beauty is not skin deep.
What matters most today is that we recognize the inherent beauty — and more importantly, the inherent worth — that lives within us all.