We all know that filters are a thing and lots of people use them on social media. We’re becoming so used to seeing them as we scroll through our feeds & stories though that we often forget that our favourite influencers (and even our friends) don’t look this way IRL. 

The unrealistic beauty standards these effects set are damaging to all of us – especially young girls. Which is why this International Women’s Day we’re asking you to #ChooseToChallenge the use of skin, hair and face altering filters and embrace being more authentic, online and off. Discover some of the women who inspire us to be unapologetically us.

“We’re fit, fun and fabulous and we’re not done yet!”

Meet Suzi Grant, a Blogger, Author & Broadcaster.  

Suzi started her Instagram account @alternativeageing for anyone “Well Over 50”. Her mission is to inspire women to grow older looking good and feeling great, and never invisible or irrelevant. Suzi is over 70 years young and, on Instagram, constantly campaigns against ageist tags and descriptions of women over 60 saying “most of us feel neither vulnerable nor elderly, we’re fit, fun and fabulous and we’re not done yet!”  

Her beauty regime consists of slapping on SPF50 and moisturiser as well as eating a healthy Mediterranean type diet, drinking plenty of water, using an exfoliating make up remover and a weekly moisturising face mask. And getting plenty of rest! Suzi’s not into fashion but is into vintage style and encourages her followers to shop vintage, preloved and sustainable to save money and the planet, as well as finding a unique gem that no-one else will be wearing. She’s passionate about wearing colour and using accessories to style up an old outfit. (Her headscarves and sunglasses have become her signature look on Instagram!) Her mantra is “you’re never too old to wear colour.” 

I #ChooseToChallenge the phrase anti-ageing’ that so many stereotypical beauty brands still use! We’re anti poverty, anti sexism, anti bullying and anti war…..why on earth would we want to be anti ageing – it’s an utter privilege to be alive, well and ageing, at any age.

For International Women’s Day let’s get rid of anti-ageing and make this year all about inclusivity, diversity and age representation. I don’t want to see a white, 22 year old selling me skincare, do you?

“I was liberated to start showing up as I am offline”

My name is Cydney, I’m a biracial, young, single mother.

Off Instagram, I sell petals and coffee for a living. On Instagram I share my acne breakouts, real skin, wobbly bits and stretch marks. 

I was at my lowest point with my skin when I discovered the acne community online, at the time it was a saving grace, I felt seen and realised I wasn’t suffering alone. From seeing people like me online, I was liberated to start showing up as I am offline. As well as sharing my skin journey online. From there I grew the confidence to start sharing body positivity too. Not only does it make me feel liberated to take bare faced selfies and semi-nude photos, but I hope by doing so, it can inspire just one person to feel less ashamed of their skin condition and the body they’re in. 

Since being unfiltered online I’ve inspired friends to love themselves more too and embrace their skin & body. I’ve connected with like minded influencers and brands who love to see it too and share the same ethos. By working with brands and spreading the skin positivity message we can normalise real skin. 

I believe it’s important for users to #ChooseToChallenge this IWD because we still have a long way to go to break beauty stereotypes. IWD is all about the celebration of women in every way we show up as. That includes with acne, skin conditions, with stretch marks, wobbly or saggy bits. We can challenge ourselves to love the skin we’re in and choose to embrace what society deems as flaws.

“I started my page so that other people who looked like me could also find hope, community, and someone to relate to on their skin journey.”

My name is Toni. I am a 29-year-old social worker living in California.

I have struggled with acne since I was a teenager. My acne really flared up in April 2020, shortly after the nationwide shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. I felt like I was trying everything, and nothing was working. My acne was not only physically painful, but it also started taking a toll on my mental health. My self-esteem plummeted and I felt depressed. I started my account for a few reasons. I wanted to track my skin’s progress, but mainly, I was trying to find community. I was looking for other people who were struggling with acne because I wanted to learn from them and feel like I was not alone. As I started following and learning from people in the skin positivity community, I realized that there were very few people who looked like me – a Black woman.

I started my page so that other people who looked like me could also find hope, community, and someone to relate to on their skin journey. The reactions from users, influencers, and brands have been mostly positive. The skin positivity movement is here to stay, it is not just a trend, and more people are starting to realize that filtered images on social media are not reality. I think a lot of people relate to these struggles of accepting oneself. I also think brands are starting to move towards using real, unfiltered skin to market their products and appeal to consumers.

I think it’s important for everyone to #ChooseToChallenge classic beauty standards because they are unrealistic, and they do not reflect the beauty intrinsic within each individual.

When we embrace ourselves wholly, regardless of our skin, body, hair, etc., we smash Eurocentric, patriarchal, versions of what is beautiful that have oppressed us for centuries. It is extremely difficult to unlearn these toxic standards, however it can be done by questioning what the beauty industry and media try to sell us, redefining what beauty means to us, and celebrating the beauty within ourselves. 

“I’m an acne-scarred aesthetician reminding people everywhere that filtered skin is not a skin type.

I’m Joanna Kenny from Beautiful by Breakfast.

A year ago I started the #poresnotflaws movement to represent REAL SKIN and highlight the impact social media filters are having on our mental health. I create the content I needed to see growing up with a skin condition by showing my followers that happiness is not determined by the amount of spots they have!”

In the past the way I felt about my skin prevented me from making any physical progress. The fear of my acne being exposed in both my professional and personal life was exhausting. But when I first started sharing my skin insecurities openly three years ago I. Felt. Liberated. 

After experiencing first-hand how debilitating living with a skin condition can be, I want to be a cheerleader for spotty humans everywhere, challenging acne stereotypes and normalising skin texture! Now I get to collaborate with some of my favourite skincare brands to create unfiltered, realistic skin advertisements.

The messages I receive from people who have seen my content motivates me to keep creating. And serves as a reminder of how transformative it can be for someone to feel seen and represented.

This IWD I #ChooseToChallenge unrealistic beauty standards so that every girl can grow up believing they are worthy of love and respect. To make a change we must all use our voice to challenge inequality and gender bias.

“In a world full of expectation to look a certain way, we must all challenge the imagery we’re fed by brands and the level of perfection we feel we must meet.”

I’m Beth and I run an Instagram account called @Face.Norm.

I like to promote skin positivity, bringing others along my journey to loving myself truly. With that said I have to heavily caveat that I am on a journey too. I don’t always feel great, I don’t always feel happy, and I certainly don’t always see my beauty, but I try to appreciate my body for what it is. Since I started on this journey, I have developed more and more confidence each day and finally felt appreciated for my real look. I fell into this space by happy accident, one day I came across someone on the discover page with similar skin to mine. With a little research, I opened a new world of people with skin just like mine, living unapologetically. I wanted to connect with these people and follow their journeys and that’s where @Face.Norm was born.

I was so guilty of consuming profiles that were showing unattainable versions of beauty on the gram and this space was a breath of fresh air. I have met some amazing people, exchanged advice, and learnt a hell of a lot about skincare, acne, and positivity towards life. So far, I have managed to work alongside some amazing brands including Aurelia. I do often reflect on partnerships with brands and have to pinch myself that they actually want to work with me, considering I post completely raw and unedited images of myself. Images I wouldn’t have ever shared in the past…the old Beth could never!!

This IWD, the #ChooseToChallenge message is more important than ever. In a world full of expectation to look a certain way, we must all challenge the imagery we’re fed by brands and the level of perfection we feel we must meet.

As women and as human beings, we all have flaws and we should all steer away from a filtered life. Hopefully, we can push the industry to showcase more unconventional standards of beauty – skin flaws, cellulite, eye bags… the lot! Let’s build each other up and celebrate our flaws rather than judge ❤️

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