WAP, shame and a new beauty industry
Why beauty isn’t a standard you have to reach in order to be worthy of a good life.
Being an anti-beauty standards beauty company might seem like a walking contradiction. But hear me out.
Beauty standards are purported to have come into being around ancient greek and roman times. So literally thousands of years ago. They are an unconscious agreement that our societies hold about how we decide who and what is desirable or attractive.
But that's not all. In psychological studies, when random faces are shown to participants, they allocate traits such as ‘intelligent’, ‘friendly’, ‘kind’, and ‘successful’ to those who fit their society’s beauty standard. Inversely, participants commonly allocate traits such as ‘unfriendly’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘mean’ or ‘not clever’ to the faces that do not fit these standards.
Therefore, beauty standards don’t just dictate a person’s likelihood of being popular with a potential mate. They can also play a part in influencing our success at work, how welcomed and liked we are by others, and a myriad other aspects of our lives.
Beauty standards are tightly upheld by the very fabric of our society, and the beauty industry plays a key role in this structure.
While I cannot dismantle thousands of years of societal adherence to beauty standards, I do believe that, within this structure, there is another way of approaching a beauty business.
The times they are a-changin’
The beauty industry tells us that we must look a certain way, be a certain size; colour; height; weight and appearance to be worthy of being beautiful (and all of the benefits that come with it). But at this time when conversations about diversity and inclusion are finally being heard, and people are waking up to histories that have been avoided or hidden for many years, there is also an associated awakening happening in the beauty space.
Yes, ‘beauty’ is a structure that the patriarchy installed and keeps in place to benefit itself, but I truly believe that womxn can - and are - rising up to reclaim this space as our own.
I believe that we are in the process of reclaiming ‘beauty’ not from a place of wanting to please the masculine, but from a place of creativity, expansiveness and femme power.
The femme body and image is something that has had a great deal of shame attached to it over the centuries, and a big part of womxn reclaiming our power is us letting go of shame about our bodies and appearance, and unashamedly, proudly, and loudly showing off what our mamas and papas gave us.
Take communities like Ok Now Ladies (a dance class that describes itself as ‘slutty zumba’) as an example. Ok Now Ladies is an incredibly liberating class where a group of people of all shapes, sizes, shades and ages come together to twerk, be loud, and rejoice in our power as femme sexual beings.
There are no rules, restrictions or smallness in a 10 foot radius of the place; just people proudly feeling beautiful in their skin, for no one else but themselves.
Carbi B & Megan Thee Stallion’s 2020 anthem WAP is another example. While the catchy tune divided ‘feminists’ (some arguing it was a huge step back for women, and others the exact opposite), we take it as an example of the femme unashamedly stepping into its pride and celebrating its power, beauty and sensuality. No one batted an eyelid when 50 Cent asked us to ‘climb on top ride like you in a rodeo’ (Candy Shop, 2005) or when Lil Wayne asked us to Lick Him Like A Lollipop. So I don’t see a problem with two empowered women celebrating their pleasure, bodies and beauty either.
Applying this to the beauty industry
But WAP aside, how does this all apply to the beauty industry?
For us, it means approaching beauty from a place of celebration and liberation from shame.
It means bringing awareness to the intention behind our use of beauty products, and whether it's coming from love or from our feelings of unworthiness.
It means questioning the rules and the things we feel that we ‘must’ do or be, to be worthy of the ‘beautiful’ seal of approval.
It means approaching skincare from a place of knowing that our skin’s health is an indication of our inner health, and wanting to nurture our wellbeing.
It means not using our platform to subtly tell people that they need to be, look, act, a certain way to be beautiful.
It means opening up beauty to not only women, but to anyone who wants to feel beautiful in their skin and body.
This is a complex topic, and one that I have many more thoughts on. But thank you for reading, and I'd love to hear what you think.