Beauty brands present a canvas to women who carry tales of heroism on their skin.
With inclusivity taking centre stage, more and more brands are acknowledging the fact that the path to true beauty is mapped out in the scars every woman carries. Although the days of glossy, size zero models with airbrushed bodies are far from over, the age of survivors is upon us without a doubt. The good news is that at least now, where there is a brand bowing down to the imaginary beast called perfection, there is also another brand asserting that perfection is relative and survival is beautiful.
A recent example of this would be beauty mogul Huda Kattan lining her stretch marks with glitter for her Glitter & Self Love campaign, which features poignant videos of burn victims getting makeovers. While the comments section shows that some people are still not ready to let go of obsolete notions of perfection, the brand persistently pushes back with their ‘beauty is for everyone’ philosophy. Needless to say, beauty has finally decided to bare its soul and we couldn’t be happier about it.
L’Oréal Pakistan also joined this movement to celebrate the strength of survivors by launching their I am Worth It campaign at the 2019 PFDC L’Oréal Bridal Week. The campaign raised awareness about the issues women face in Patriarch-istani society and openly declared the brand’s dedication to women empowerment.
In 2016, L’Oréal joined hands with model-turned-activist Mehreen Syed, who represented ICARE (her NGO, founded under the aegis of her training institute called International Fashion Academy of Pakistan - IFAP). The two brands launched the Beauty for Better Life programme, which trains, educates and empowers women from underprivileged backgrounds.
Fast forward to 2019 and 65 graduates from Syed’s IFAP and ICARE walked the ramp amidst thunderous applause. The campaign highlighted issues such as dowry, domestic violence, education (or lack thereof) and women’s employment.
Mussarat Misbah is probably one of the best examples from Pakistan of how the ethos of modern beauty brands is becoming increasingly intertwined with philanthropic underpinnings. Already widely respected in the beauty industry, Misbah has opened doors to acid burn victims with the promise to heal, educate and employ them through her Smile Again Foundation, an organisation formed in 2003 and committed towards helping acid and kerosene burn victims. The foundation helps acid burn victims go through procedures and treatments to minimise the effects of their tragedy and build their self-esteem. To date, the foundation has helped more than 800 girls find employment opportunities, medical help and rehabilitation.
In the West, beauty giants like Urban Decay are known for generously contributing to nonprofits, including Women's Global Empowerment Fund, Her Justice, and Equality Now. Her Justice is a New York-based non profit organisation that provides pro bono legal assistance and relief to women from low-income backgrounds on matters of law, marriage and immigration. Most of them are domestic abuse survivors. Equality Now, which was founded in 1992 protects the rights of women and girls.
Since the inception of The Body Shop, founder Anita Roddick has provided unwavering support to underprivileged communities. The beauty giant sources their world famous shea butter (the star ingredient in most of their products) from Tungteiya Women’s Association – an association that provides employment opportunities to women in Ghana. The Body Shop also invests in development programmes and community projects to further buttress the livelihood of these women.
Avon too has raised money with their Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative which includes the Avon Domestic Violence Survivor Empowerment Program.
The West clearly has more examples of beauty brands embracing survivors and helping them regain their self-esteem, mainly because of the size of the cosmetics industry in those countries. Nevertheless, the dearth of Pakistani makeup brands hardly overshadows the philanthropic streak of brands, such as Misbah who has set the bar high. However, here’s to hoping that more local makeup brands follow suit and help our sisters in need.
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.