If you’ve already seen the new Missguided campaign, you may be joining us in punching the air. For the new #InYourOwnSkin campaign, the fashion brand chose models with visible skin “imperfections” and conditions in the name of reclaiming that stigma and letting it be beautiful.
Dating back centuries, the idea of perfect skin was always regarded as a pillar of feminine beauty, and the idea enforced by the West has been pale, white, and flawless. This is both a racist and exclusive standard, and it’s been a stubborn one to dismantle – even today, skin-bleaching creams are sold in many parts of the world, and the skincare industry is booming, thanks in part to unrealistic pressures.
In the thick of Facetune and Instagram, we’re approaching a new age of self-care and self-respect, and brands like Missguided put their money where their mouth is when they invest in giving marginalised beauty a platform, going so far in February as to create unique mannequins of diverse ethnicities with visible stretch marks and vitiligo. We’re applauding their commitment to body positivity and diversity in the beauty and fashion industries, and we hope more brands follow suit. Since ASOS chose not to retouch their swimwear models’ stretch marks last year, we’ve been noticing how every little step towards normalisation builds a movement.
The models championed in the #InYourOwnSkin campaign are women and girls with a whole rainbow of unique skin. Framed like masterpieces are birthmarks, extensive scarring, and huge areas of freckling, and many of the models specifically want to “raise awareness” for their own under-discussed genetic conditions. To honour that, we want to educate about the main three conditions spotlit by these women:
Albinism – The rare congenital absence of melanin pigment in skin, hair, and eyes, resulting in a pale appearance and higher risk of sun damage. One’s quality of vision may be impacted by it, and it affects about 1 in 17,000.
Psoriasis – Thought to be an autoimmune condition in which too many skin cells are produced, resulting in the immune system attacking these cells and producing flaky patches. It affects roughly 2% of people in the UK.
Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) – Affecting about 5,000 people in the UK, the rare skin condition is caused by an inherited faulty gene. The skin, as a result, is extremely fragile and is prone to wounds such as blisters, tearing, and scarring from any rough impact.
All of these topics are commonly shushed, and selectively ignored by the beauty industry and surrounding media. There is also surprisingly little known about many congenital skin conditions. Just by appearing in these photos, these models are sparking a conversation and demanding the attention they deserve.
On a purely aesthetic note, it’s not forwards we need to go in beauty, but backwards, back to the raw, unedited forms we all have. Looking to the future is wonderful, but hopefully with more exposure of diversity, and more role models with rare conditions, we’ll be reminded of how beautiful these traits are within ourselves. Missguided’s campaign prompts us on a personal level to take time to accept, love, and reclaim our natural beauty – and from that wholesome starting point, we can go anywhere.
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Words by Esmeralda Voegele-Downing