If we’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s that representation matters.
Big issues like the representation of different skin tones, body sizes and disabilities are fought for on the reg by various strong-ass women and require real change in the minds of the powers that be.
However, calling the media out on a lack of inclusion is only one way to change things. Love Island in particular have been receiving flack for their lack of inclusion on the show, predominantly with body sizing.
Applauding small changes is another. Once these powers realise that we WANT to see ourselves and our peers represented, things will change.
Even this year, campaigns like Dove'sstunning #ShowUs effort have been proving to the media industry that the public want to see every type of person in advertisements and on our screens.
From all gender binaries, sexual orientations, ethnicities, abilities and sizes to vitiligo to scarring; Why should only one type of person be represented on screen when perfection is a myth?
When flawlessness and perfection no longer sell, when ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t appeal to the masses; that’s when media organisations, beauty companies and the entertainment industry begin to change their tune.
On the topic of applauding small steps, the last two episodes of Love Island have sparked praise in one particular area: skin.
Every single human being has experienced bad skin at one point in their lives. Some of us suffered through teenage acne and have the scars to prove it. Many have had to deal with life-altering skin related issues from complex conditions to unfortunate accidents. Skin is at the centre of beauty campaigns and we are bombarded with an image of what perfectly clear skin ‘should’ look like, err single day.
The cute and bubbly new contestant on the ITV reality show, Francesca Allen, has received some appreciative feedback for choosing to allow her skin to breathe free. She has visible spots and we are SO ready for them. This was also true for Lucie when she took her makeup off each night and revealed 'normal' skin. Maura is over there representing all pale Irish beauties whose faces don't match their necks after a night out.
There should never be a strict definition of what constitutes 'normal' skin. 'Normal' to us is what we're shown the most, which is perfection.
However, in reality there are millions of skin disorders and types in the world that don't get shown on screens globally. Our skin is a vital organ, and it's unique to each person.
One Love Island viewer tweeted she was; "nearly crying at the fact Francesca has acne scarring". Another got emotional stating it was "refreshing" for someone who struggles with their skin every day "to see an amazingly beautiful girl like Francesca show off her bare face and acne to the world without shame". These are real people, lets remember. Real people who are thankful to see something familiar on the small screen.
Though each islander is stunningly beautiful in their own ways, imperfections show their humanity. Just because they're on a screen doesn't mean they aren't just like us. That the kids watching them – and yes there are kids as young as 12 waiting up for the series each night- can see that skin imperfections can be gorgeous and above all, normal.
Considering Francesca's skin is still by advertising and media standards damn near perfect, it says a lot that the response to even a few minor scars has been incredibly positive and emotional.
Despite what we see in film, TV and the media; a wheelchair can often be the most beautiful part of a person, an extension of themselves.
When it comes to representation and wheelchair users, what is often presented to us is vastly different from the reality.
We recently chatted to Izzy Keane, one part of the duo that founded Izzy Wheels, to get a grasp of what it means for her to see fellow wheelchair users on magazine covers, in the film industry and in media campaigns.
Dove’s new project #ShowUs aims to empower women by showing faces and bodies that normally aren’t displayed in the media, and Izzy herself has been one of the hand-picked people in the 5,000 photo-strong movement.
So, why is this movement so vital? According to new research, a shocking 70 percent of women still don't feel represented in media and advertising.
This affects more than just beauty routines and self-esteem; by homogenising the idea of ‘beauty’, it undermines the notion that being different is what makes us stand out.
From dating to style to career choices, confidence goes a long way. It’s time to get unapologetic about diversity in fashion and media, and demand to see a more truthful and authentic portrayal of real people in our daily lives.
Digital editing, filters and social media have shined an ugly light on how narrow-minded these industries are when it comes to a woman’s appearance.
Dove are helping us to take back control of our differences, and it’s high time they’re highlighted for how perfect they truly are.
From people of various ethnicities to freckles, stretch-marks, acne and wrinkles to older mothers and people with disabilities- beauty doesn’t have a single face or body.
In collaboration with Girlgaze and Getty Images, Dove’s #ShowUs is no ordinary campaign, but showcases how nobody is simply ordinary. #ShowUs is the world’s largest stock photo library of images created by women for use by brands and agencies in marketing and communications.
The phenomenal project is designed to shatter beauty stereotypes by showing women as they are, not as others believe they should be. It aims to drive a more diverse and inclusive visual landscape through media and advertising, and it's set to be a game-changer.
The images are a call-to-action in the beauty industry, it’s no longer good enough to see the same type of body shape, skin tone, and ability on billboards and magazines every day.
True confidence lies in the individuality and unique essence within every single person.
Izzy was born with spina bifida, which meant that Izzy has never been able to walk.
Does this stop her from achieving any of her goals with infectious energy while wearing unquestionably funky clothes? Not a chance.
Her wheelchair and it’s kaleidoscope of brilliant designs reflects her vibrant personality, her ethos of creativity and self-confidence.
Who better to interview about her part in Dove’s new campaign of representation? The young student is acutely aware of the need to show individuality when it comes to representation;
“When you turn on the television, you don’t often see people with disabilities. People’s favourite soap operas, if you see someone with a disability it’s as a result of something really extreme and tragic.
"It’s really important in all types of media to show that it can be a really positive thing, and we shouldn’t see our differences with so much negativity."
“The whole purpose of the Dove campaign is to represent women of diversity, of all different shapes, sizes, levels of ability, ethnicities; as many types of women as possible. I ticked that box, because of my disability and because I wear quite unusual clothes and colours,” Izzy says, with a laugh.
Looking through her impressive Instagram, it’s difficult to ignore the splashes of colour and statement prints.
The motto of Izzy Wheels is a breath of fresh air in itself; ‘If you can’t stand up, stand out.’ It’s clear that Izzy intends to bring this principle into all aspects of her everyday life, and is refreshingly aware of the magical potential which unique traits hold.
Unfortunately, most of those currently in power in the beauty industry appear to disagree with expressing difference as a strength.
With current standards of beauty seemingly impossibly high, what is Izzy’s own perception of beauty?
“I honestly believe that the most beautiful people are so self-confident that their confidence is infectious, and they make everyone around them feel amazing about themselves. The type of person who is able to bring everyone up around them.”
Brands in the industry have a huge responsibility to boost the confidence of consumers, rather than profit from their insecurities. Thankfully, Dove's message is one of hope for people who feel left out.
“Dove is an absolutely amazing brand to be undertaking a cause like this, because they’re so huge. Everyone knows about them, they’re very highly regarded and respected. It’s such an important task to undertake and I think they’re able to do it in a meaningful way."
Together, we have reached 4 million young people with our body-positive and self-esteem curriculum and now we will reach even more! https://t.co/9hFz7nJ4Ug
While numerous brands are beginning to expand their reach in terms of diverse models, it’s still a rarity to see anyone with disabilities such as those with hearing loss, blindness or users of wheelchairs in the media.
The modelling world have strict limitations on what they see as beautiful, but many brands are seeking to break those chains.
Some of them may not use authenticity, but Dove’s latest batch of stunning imagery are gorgeously genuine.
They show off the essence of the models themselves, and their personalities jump from the photographs.
Izzy’s bright and sunny nature as well as her taste for the colourful are weapons in her beauty arsenal, but her wheelchair assists her in her quest for confidence.
“I think that we’re living in an era when finally brands like Dove are starting to realise that it’s not acceptable to just show one type of body or one type of person. It’s really important for even their own sales and their own business that their audience is able to relate to the image they put out to the public," Izzy shared.
Writers and activists like Erin Clark are opening up more and more about the difficulties of never seeing your appearance in the media, and slowly progress is being made.
How does Izzy feel when she sees how limited images in the media are in terms of ableism?
"It can be really annoying when people like myself open up the fashion magazines and I don’t see anyone like myself, but things are going in the right direction.
"There’s always further to go and I can’t wait to see the strides that are made by everyone to be more inclusive, it’s an incredible thing to be part of. It’s really about embracing the thing that makes you different," she continues.
Izzy’s wheelchair is a device used for her creative-expression, why should a wheelchair only be seen as mechanical?
We were interested to hear Izzy’s own personal inspirations, and who she loves to see on the covers of magazines representing her.
“Sinéad Burke is an absolute legend, I absolutely love her. There are so many people making big waves in the area of diversity," she says.
"There’s such an opportunity there. People shouldn’t be afraid to tap into that, and push the boat a bit.”
The campaign hopes to target those who work in the media as well as those who deserve to be included and see their own faces reflected back to them.
What makes the images extra special is that each woman photographed has chosen the search result tags, meaning they have digitally taken control back over their own beauty.
Izzy's goal is to share that part of her which she wants seen the most:
“My wheelchair! The wheels do so much for me, and I think it’s so important out of a sign of respect to show it off well and make it look nice. It’s an extension of my body and it tells such an interesting story.”
#SeeUs is a direct challenge for the beauty industry to tackle, what does Izzy hope the audience will get from seeing these pictures?
“I think so many different groups will finally feel represented and included. For someone like me can be asked by a brand such as Dove to work with them is incredible, it’s a dream come true."
"Other people will realise that that kind of dream will come true for them too.”
Women worldwide can get involved in #ShowUs: go to Dove's website to share your images.
Check out Izzy Wheels' incredible array of wheelchair cover designs by Ailbhe Keane and other artists here.
The new collection dropped today, and is set to be a sell-out hit; filled with a range of body types, abilities and ethnicities. We heart.
The clothes have got serious girl boss slogans on them, such as "Girl, you got this", "Girl Gang", "GRL PWR" and "Go Girl." All the things we need to hear when we're feelin' down in the dumps, despite our female badass-ery.
Better yet, the company are celebrating womankind by donating all proceeds to WAGGGS, the world's only movement for every girl and any girl. They believe that each of them deserves to be the best they can be.
WAGGGSrepresent 10 million girls in 150 countries, helping them to develop their leadership skills and empowering them to use their important voice for change in their communities and countries.
We support their ideal that all girls are valued, and have a place in this world.
Lauren Rose, Lauren Mahon, Mari Malek, Yasmin Jay, Giuliana Farfalla, Danielle Candray and Madison Lawson model the garments for the brand's cause, and look absolutely stunning while they're at it.
We’re starting with the first ever volunteers at Kusafiri, our only World Centre that isn’t fixed to the spot! This time round it was based in Uganda, and has been home to volunteers from the USA, Madagascar, the UK, Rwanda and Mexico! #WTD2019pic.twitter.com/GvqTXF4Pyd