Yahoo Lifestyle’s Diversity in Beauty Awards (the DIBs) highlight and celebrate personalities, brands, and products that embody inclusiveness and innovation. See the 2018 winners list here. We enlisted six experts who have championed diversity in their careers and cover all bases of the beauty industry to vote on the best in makeup, skin care, hair care, and more. Here, we put a spotlight on six models who are showing us that beauty belongs to everyone.
When you pick up a magazine, look at a beauty campaign, or even think of the latest product launches at your local Sephora or Ulta, oftentimes you’re met with the same, stereotypical face of “beauty”: thin, white, blond, straight hair, perfect skin. Through the years, however, there has been a push — no doubt thanks to social media — for the beauty industry to expand not only what it means to be beautiful, but what that looks like.
The reality is, everyone is beautiful, whether you’re tall, short, black, white, fresh-faced or acne-prone. We all deserve a seat at this metaphorical beauty table that has, for too long, isolated itself from various marginalized groups.
Brands like NARS, Lancôme, and Fenty Beauty have worked to extend the conversation about shade ranges, ensuring that no skin tone is left unseen. YouTubers — including Jackie Aina, Patricia Bright, and Alissa Ashley — work to show that all can have an opinion, and that when people speak up, brands will listen. Fashion shows such as Gypsy Sport and Chromat show that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that people of all sizes and abilities are beautiful. But even off the runways, we see individuals every day who are working to keep those conversations going, one inspiring moment at a time.
Let’s take a look at six individuals who are showing us that beauty belongs to everyone.
The model showing us that beauty has no rules
When you think of supermodels, most don’t think of a plus-size black girl with the name Precious. However, Precious Lee is redefining what a supermodel looks like, unapologetically sporting her curves in Vogue pages and Lane Bryant campaigns, just to name a few.
“Who makes the rules about beauty?” she says to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Who says what is beautiful and who isn’t? I think it’s a task only for self. No one should have the ability to say how you should feel about the body you own. I’ve always felt that my sense of confidence depended on me. You can’t allow people to tell you how you should feel about your body.”
And when it comes to the long journey of acceptance we all must go through, Lee is confident that all can find that confidence internally. “It’s not an end game; it’s ongoing, and it’s important to be happy during the process. Since I could remember, fashion, art, and music were always outlets for me to express myself. Antiquated fashion ideals that promote only one type of beauty are bogus. I hope that my work can show women that labels are irrelevant. It’s up to us to shift the beauty ideals and make it a more embracing space for the girls that will be the women running the world years to come. It’s fashion, it’s beauty; it’s suppose to be freeing. Everything else is just noise.”
The model pushing for gender fluidity
“I see myself as someone who’s working in hopes to break walls, take up space, and redefine the general perspective/aesthetic of beauty,” says Aaron Phillip, a model who wants to show the world that beauty is not defined by gender pronouns or ability levels.
She tells Yahoo Lifestyle: “There’s little to no visibility in the beauty world for trans folks or physically disabled people, and I’m always working to change that. I’m on my way to becoming a successful model and trying my best to get signed so I can be in everything from runways, beauty campaigns, and editorials to assert my presence as a physically disabled, black trans femme and normalize my community in this field and beyond.”
And when it comes to embracing the uniqueness that makes you beautiful, Phillip believes everyone has that within themselves. “Beauty belongs to all because there is not one way to be beautiful — a specific type of beauty should not become a societal standard for those who do not fit into that narrative of beauty itself. I personally don’t feel as if I even belong in the conversation of what is beautiful, so I’m simply making my very own beauty standard and using it to make it known that being physically disabled, black and trans is indeed beautiful.”
The model proving that beauty comes in all sizes
Hunter McGrady is not only Sports Illustrated‘s most size-inclusive model yet, but the statuesque size 16 beauty doesn’t hold back when it comes to strutting her stuff in its full glory. She tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I think that because I am someone in the media, and at my size and stature, it’s not something society is used to seeing. The fact that I am able to use my voice on social platforms and continue to break the barrier of the beauty ideals that we are used to seeing has been such a great blessing.”
Not only has McGrady created the hashtag #AllWorthy to inspire a body-positivity movement on and off social media; she lives it every day. “Social media can be a blessing or a curse depending how you use it,” she said. “I’m an advocate for following positive Instagrammers. There are tons out there, and since we are going to be scrolling on our Instagrams, why not feed our minds with positivity? We have that choice.”
The plus-size model teaching you not to take crap from anyone
Many remember just last year when Natalie Hage confronted a body-shamer on a plane. Since then, the self-proclaimed “plant-based plus-size southern powerhouse” has preached positivity to all her followers, which include 138,000 Instagram fans.
The beauty of Hage‘s story is that she wasn’t always the confident young lady you see today; ultimately, it shows us all that we can grow to love and accept ourselves. “I was angry and sad about my body for longer than I’d like to admit,” she says. “I spent many years seeing my body as something I had to overcome, something that was a consequence, something I had to punish. I decided one day that I would try something different, and I started forgiving myself and working with my body. Life has never been so good and I’ve never been so happy.”
And before you start thinking Hage follows certain beauty rules, she’s here to let you know there are none. “Beauty belongs to all because there should be no rules about who deserves what,” she says. “You don’t deserve a bikini because you’re a certain body size. You don’t deserve bold makeup because you’re a certain age. Remember you’re worthy of happiness, inside and out.”
The model teaching men to own their bodies
When they say it only takes a minute to change your life, Arcadio Del Valle knows this all to be true. The Bostonian was just a regular guy with a regular job — until one day when he was scouted through social media and walked in New York Fashion Week’s first plus-size male runway show. Now, he’s on a mission to show every man that he can be sexy, no matter what his size.
“I’m going to be the fat guy, the plus-size model that will change minds, that will show you we can be sexy too,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We can be beautiful, we can do fashion, and we can be fierce because we are — I am.”
The biggest lesson Del Valle teaches us all is that beauty is not looking like you’ve got it all together. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “Beauty doesn’t have a standard, a shape, or preference,” he says. “Beauty is looking in the mirror seeing your flaws, embracing them day by day, learning to love yourself as you are at this very moment at any size. We are all beautiful in some shape or form of the word.”
The model who took her pain and made it her power
For years, Berlange Presilus and her family didn’t get a medical diagnosis about her leg, though it had caused her pain ever since she was a child. Years later, in America and with a new stream of doctors, an answer — though bleak — came, but it required surgeries and more medical complications. And at 17, she was told by a doctor that she was suffering from heart failure and wouldn’t make it past age 19.
Today, Berlange is a thriving model who not only struts her stuff (as a Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome survivor), but shows others that there is beauty in finding your power. She shares with Yahoo Lifestyle: “I came a long way, from disliking parts of my body to loving every bit of it, especially my affected leg. I am so happy to have finally made peace with this amazing body of mine.”
And if you needed another reminder that we’re all works of art, Berlange has some inspiring words: “Inherently, everything created by the almighty God is created with utmost perfection and beauty. Who are we as simple humans to judge or criticize such masterpieces? We are all created beautifully. Beauty is in everyone, because we are all a true manifestation of beauty.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• Shoppers demanded more from the beauty industry. These brands listened.
• Lupita Nyong’o’s hairstylist wants you to know ‘you can achieve greatness with your hair’
• Reshaping the beauty industry doesn’t happen every day, but these pros are doing it