Cool for the Cover

 
 

From Rae to Rau, Adam Lawler celebrates a new wave of representation in the beauty industry.

The fashion and beauty industry is wild. From fat-shaming, squad-culture, appropriation, and the phrase ‘Size Zero,’ to Gigi Hadid’s genderfluid claim because she wears Zayn’s trousers sometimes. It deserves its reputation as a mess of exclusion masked as exclusivity. However, this is 2017. We are allowed to expect at least some level of progression, not to mention that we need, and deserve, a ray of light.

Enter new CoverGirl Issa Rae. Rae puts a cap on a great year for CoverGirl in securing ample underrepresented talent, a year in which they’ve added Nura Afia, the first CoverGirl to wear a hijab, and James Charles, the first male CoverGirl. The creator and star of HBO’s Insecure is a relatable trailblazer, and fully aware of what her role means, since well before she told Rolling Stone that her show is “not for white people.” She recalled her days as an “awkward black girl” in the Instagram post accompanying her announcement, and has since told Buzzfeed about her foundation faux-pas that reminded her why she wanted to be there to “help other people find what works for them.”

The spectrum of inclusion has broadened exponentially to draw everyone from plus-sized models to sufferers of chronic conditions into the fold. Model Winnie Harlow has gone from being bullied for her vitiligo to becoming the first Canadian ever cast on America’s Next Top Model and making prominent cameos in Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Jokiva Rivers is a model and activist who doesn’t shy away from showing the harrowing effects of lupus.

“The spectrum of inclusion has broadened exponentially to draw everyone from plus-sized models to sufferers of chronic conditions into the fold.”

This development in the industry is vital, especially for the women who are consistently othered. Andreja Pejic is the first transgender model to sign with Ford Models, marking the latest development in an incredible resurgence since being dropped by her agency in 2013. Ines Rau was announced as Playboy’s first ever trans playmate; in promoting these radiant talents, making trans people feel safe and visible is just another bonus.

Although there is an element of industry bandwagon-jumping, this can be a good thing. “Fake it ‘til you make it” could be a key concept in companies aping their more progressive peers until they become more progressive by osmosis. There are still huge strides to be taken in order to achieve full inclusivity, and it will be a while yet, but the fact that more and more people can see themselves in the many different faces sashaying down the runway is heartening though well overdue.

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