What is Body Positivity?
Body positivity is a movement that celebrates diversity in bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and abilities. Bolstered by Gen Z, the movement has grown momentum in the media over the last decade and has contributed to shifts in many facets of the beauty industry, from influencers online promoting fresh-faced unfiltered photos to skincare and cosmetics brands releasing products designed to enhance rather than conceal one’s natural skin. These trends are vital for beauty brands to consider, particularly as a quarter of the Gen Z customers many companies are marketing to feel unrepresented by current beauty marketing.
The body positivity movement encourages beauty brands to embrace real women that are representative of the majority of consumers and to advertise their products on models with blemishes, scars, and wrinkles. Brands are also being encouraged to use affirming language that reflects body positivity, rather than traditional skincare and cosmetic marketing language that focuses on what needs to be “fixed” or “improved” about one’s complexion and appearance.
Why is Beauty Marketing Often Problematic?
Historically, beauty brands market their products on models that fit a very narrow beauty standard which the vast majority of consumers simply cannot relate to. These often include thin, white, young, able-bodied women whose photos may be further edited with airbrushing and photoshop in order to create an image that ascribes to hyper-specific and largely unattainable beauty standards.
Brands previously thought that equating these images with their products would inundate their customers with the idea that these products could generate the same kind of results for them -- marketing which associated buying certain cosmetics and skincare with self-esteem and value. However, current research indicates a very different trend: Only 5% of women want to see marketing with conventionally attractive models which they can “aspire to,” whereas the majority of women (a whopping 74%) prefer health and beauty brands using diverse models representing different bodies, skin conditions, ages, and abilities.
How Beauty Brands can Implement Body Positivity
Given the clear demand for body-positive beauty marketing, brands are beginning to make the shift toward inclusive content that represents a wider range of their customers. In order to accomplish this, we recommend two simple ideas to keep in mind when creating any new marketing materials:
Imagery Should be Diverse, Representative, and Unfiltered
The photos you use to market your products make a difference in consumer perceptions of them, and you should be mindful of this when creating content. Make an effort to include a wide variety of models with diverse body types and different skin tones, as well as models with visible blemishes and skin conditions.
Language should be Inclusive, Positive or Neutral, and Non-Critical
When marketing beauty products, it is vital to use language that encourages your customers to feel comfortable in their women's skin and to view your product as enhancing their daily routines or addressing skin health concerns that they care about. The traditional approach to beauty marketing is to describe products as “corrective” or as though they are a necessary step towards “normal” skin. Many brands are doing away with any mention of “normal” on their packaging, including the brand Unilever. This is a revolutionary idea, as the marketing for skincare and cosmetics is often critical of customers’ natural skin, and arbitrary standards are advertised as the norm.
Wrapping Up: What's the status of Body Positivity in the Beauty Industry?
Other brands have already begun implementing these changes by changing their models and the language of their content in order to be more inclusive. For example, the new beauty brand Superfluid which claims to be “Inspired by real skin” has launched its products with promotional images including a wide range of body and skin types, including models with rosacea or vitiligo in addition to visible stretch marks and scars.
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