Inclusion and Diversity in Beauty Standards: Is it Diverse Enough?

November 8, 2020
Written ByPocosmo Staff

Even though beauty has no exact definition, the idea of beauty has become fixated in our minds by the influence of media. Until recently, to be considered as beautiful one would have to fit in some specific beauty standard boxes- smooth, symmetrical, clean, thin, traditionally feminine, delicate and young.

The beauty industry is influenced by social media more than any other industry. In the last five years, beauty standards have revolutionized, moved to welcome and to represent, customers all along the spectrum of skin shades and gender identities.


In the beauty industry, pale skin had been considered beautiful for years. Until recently, most makeup brands didn’t manufacture colors to suit darker skin tones. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line has been a pioneer to inclusion in the beauty industry with its new 40-foundation standard. Fenty beauty has not stopped at makeup only but moved on to skincare products that are catering to women of color. There were days when Iman, a supermodel of the 1970s and ’80s, had to blend her own foundation on photo shoots seem archaic. (She later started her own cosmetics line, ages before Rihanna, to address those very issues.)  Models and actresses like Lupita Nyong’o, Priyanka Chopra and Gugu Mbatha-Raw have welcomed diversity in the beauty industry. Canadian fashion model Winnie Harlow has set an example for the younger generation by becoming the first successful model with vitiligo.

Obsession with “thigh-gaps” and unrealistic beauty standards has been blamed for not only making young women obsessed with diets but also taking their lives. Mental health issues like bulimia and anorexia have increased due to these unrealistic beauty standards. As diversity becomes an increasing focus in the fashion industry, more and more plus-size models are becoming household names. From Robyn Lawley, Kate Wasley, Ashley Graham to the unapologetic Tess Holliday, these women not only have millions of fans on social media but are appearing on the runway, red carpet, and cover of magazines. Movements like @iweigh by British actress Jameela Jamil have held brands accountable for unrealistic beauty standards and body-shaming women for their dress size. Brands have also been called out for not catering to size women. H&M, MaisonCléo, Mango, Monki, and many others have extended their size range in response.

Transgender people have had a long, complicated history in the modeling industry. In the '60s, April Ashley, for example, was a popular underwear model in Vogue, but when a British newspaper revealed she was a transgender woman, she never modeled in the country again. Today, the modeling industry is starting to be more open and accepting of the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes — no matter the gender. HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ star Hunter Schafer, Victoria’s Secret Model Valentina Sampaio, and Nathan Westling made history by claiming their high seats in the industry.

Similarly, change is taking place in hair care. Led by influential stars like Yara Shahidi, Sasha Lane, and Tracee Ellis Ross, who wear their hair unprocessed, “wild, kinky, frizzy texture” is redefining Hollywood glamour, said the hairstylist Nai’vasha Johnson, who styles Ms. Shahidi and Ms. Lane. With diversity and inclusion being introduced to beauty standards, women with hijab have become a large part of the beauty industry as well. Models and influencers like Mariah Idrissi, Ruba Zai, and Halima Aden have presented with more diversification and refreshing outlooks. From walking the runway to posing for magazine covers in hijab, these women have questioned the existing beauty standards.

In an era of makeup collections with 40 foundation colors, plus-size models, and more spokesmodels of color than ever before, diversity at the beauty counter would seem to be accepted, even celebrated. Yet the revolution has a long way to go to welcome people from all colors, gender, and ethnicity.

Do you think beauty standards have become diverse and inclusive in recent days? Comment below to let us know!

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