The Natural View: The Fashion Industry Shouldn't Fear Natural Beauty

We all know how much the fashion industry loves an airbrush. But is this losing potential consumers? A Kent University study has found that the relentless image of perfection distributed by fashion brands may, in fact, be harming sales. Companies avoid representing the average customer in favour of using size zero models employed for their superior aesthetic prowess - and then airbrush them, which seems absurd.

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Companies like Dove have been promoting natural beauty, which is fantastic. But, in this area, there is a big difference between the fashion and beauty industries. Brands like Dove are pioneers in the promotion of natural beauty, but fashion companies and advertising are lagging behind. Attempts to push for more natural beauty within fashion tend to come from outside the industry itself. For example the act put forward by the French government, creating a minimum BMI for models, is one element which forces a standard nearing the norm. But these acts are often refuted or disparaged by dominant figures in fashion retail.

However, maybe things will finally change with the news that women age 18 - 25 year would prefer brands who use average size models. Kent University have conducted several studies, each showing a sample of women two images: one of a size zero model wearing a well-known brand, and another of an average sized woman wearing an unknown brand. Studies show that the majority of women preferred the unknown brand, because the model looked more akin to a representation of normality.

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Further research has found that the size zero models used by big brands can be interchanged with average size models without any damage being done to the brand's image. And in addition, upcoming brands tend to achieve a greater following by using models who more resemble the average person.

So with this research, perhaps the fashion industry should stop generating beauty via a computer. Celebrating natural beauty is something society often forgets to do, especially given how obsessed the media is with airbrushing technology. But maybe in the light of these developments, the industry can finally begin to let go of unrealistic beauty ideals and start to accept people as they are.

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Hannah Ellison

Brighton Fashion Week Blogger

 

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