You know Ashley Graham. She's a supermodel, change-maker, and body activist. But a sample size she is not — and this is a good thing. Even before her historic Sports Illustrated cover in 2016, she had been loudly advocating for curvy women to be included in fashion. Now, with her monumental contract with Revlon, she's bringing the same movement to the beauty industry.
The news marks the first time a "plus-sized" model has landed a major beauty contract. It sounds odd — outlandish, even — that in 2018, during an era of women's empowerment, that this is the case. (Especially given the statistics that, among the 67% of U.S. women who wear a size 14 or above, only 2% of these images are shown in mainstream media.) But Graham says it perfectly: "Lipstick has no size. Beauty is beyond size. So there is no reason why we shouldn't see all different shapes and sizes in major campaigns."
This shift toward greater representation in beauty ads and product lines is of the upmost importance — not just for the current generation, but also for the generations to come. And yet, the conversation about size has been a long time coming. "Traditionally, curvy models have been overlooked for beauty campaigns because society equated beauty with thinness," Graham tells us. "I used to have Cindy Crawford's Revlon campaigns taped to my wall as a teenager, and I remember thinking, Wow — she is gorgeous! But also, Where is the model who looks like me?"
Revlon is just one brand lately that's bringing authenticity and relatability to the forefront, inspiring people to embrace their truest selves — no matter what that looks like. Campaigns from Aerie, Glossier, and CVS, which recently announced its new no-Photoshop guidelines, are pushing the same message.
For the sake of consumers, the movement is critical: "In many cases, no one on the planet actually looks like the model in an advertisement," says clinical psychotherapist Matthew Traube, MFT. "Even when the reader is aware of that, there is still a negative influence of this unattainable physical perfection." And that, Graham adds, is what makes Revlon's campaign so important.
"I hope this changes the status quo, and encourages more brands to equally represent everyone," she says. "Remember that perfection does not exist. Use your voice to tell these brands what you want to see. The more vocal we are, the more change there will be."