Is 2017 set to change beauty standards for good? Tori Attwood finds out...

FROM the often ridiculous beauty regimes to photo-shopped adverts chopping off vital body parts, it’s safe to say that the media has a big part to play in creating unrealistic perceptions of female beauty.

But if the start of 2017 is anything to go by, this year could be the most diverse yet for challenging beauty ideals.

Whilst 84% of young women claim to understand the widespread use of airbrushing and Photoshop, almost a third still admit they want to look like models in adverts.* This would suggest showcasing realistic body and beauty standards is still an ongoing issue in the advertising industry.

Fortunately, there are some brilliant brands who are already tackling the issue.

 From diversifying models to highlight different cultures, to campaigns that celebrate the real female form, these are the best body positive movements so far this year.        

Nike launches new Pro-Hijab campaign

Nike made recent headlines thanks to the introduction of their Pro Hijab - the sports brand's first ever hijab designed for Muslim female athletes. Scheduled for an early 2018 release, the product has been met with both backlash and praise. Right-wing activists have branded the hijab as capitalising on the oppression of women, whilst many Muslim women have celebrated the brand's approach to providing active wear that enables them to compete in sports.  

Iskra Lawrence’s TED talk on ‘Ending the pursuit of perfection'

Thank the world for the day Iskra Lawrence hit Instagram. The 26-year-old natural beauty, who was previously rejected from modelling agencies due to the size of her hips, is a firm favourite in the plus-size community thanks to her candid cellulite selfies and stretchmark snaps. But in January, the size 14 model took her body positivity campaign to new heights as she hosted a TED talk highlighting the importance of mental, physical and emotional health in the education system. If you missed it, make sure you catch up for some serious lessons on self-love.

170316 Iskra Lawrence
Model Iskra Lawrence Iskra Lawrence


For many, a cheeky before and after selfie can be a staple in your daily routine, perhaps to highlight progress at the gym or show-off last night's transformational make-up. But, #Boycottthebefore aims to tackle a more serious side to the selfie ritual. Founded by eating disorder survivor @soworthsaving, the movement launched in conjunction with National Eating Disorder Awareness week (26 Feb – 4 March) in a bid to remove the pressures from eating disorder survivors to compare themselves to their previous states. The hashtag has been picked up by over a thousand users since its launch, including support from Iskra Lawrence.  

"We're happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way" I'm 22 you guys !! 🎉🎉
A post shared by Lexie ✨ (@soworthsaving) on

Sports Illustrated appoints another plus size model

There’s a new girl on the Sports Illustrated team and she’s set to sizzle this summer. Following in the footsteps of Ashely Graham who debuted on the 2016 cover as the first ever size-16 model used by the mag, Hunter McGrady is taking to the Sports Illustrated wall of fame for the 2017 calendar. Joining the magazine’s most diverse line-up yet alongside Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Robyn Lawley, Hunter has already stolen the spotlight with her curvy physique and risqué look; whilst previous models have been famously clad in skimpy bikinis, Hunter will be wearing nothing but body paint disguised as a swimsuit. A very bold move indeed.

Dove’s 'real beauty' campaign

When it comes to celebrating natural beauty and promoting self-love, Dove is often at the forefront of the discussion. The Unilever-owned brand recently announced an update to their ‘campaign for real beauty’ to tackle the changing beauty landscape since the original launch in 2004. Showcasing 32 women, aged 11-to-71, from fifteen countries, including Brazil, India, China, and the Philippines, the diverse new campaign aims to demonstrate what real beauty means to women across a variety of ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and styles from all over the world. 

Disabled models on the runway

Think ‘fashion industry’ and it’s unlikely that diversity springs to mind. But thanks to recent comments made by government minister Penny Morduant, model diversity could soon become a key highlight at London Fashion Week. The minister has advised that fashion houses need to increase the representation of disabled models on the runway, following concerns raised by the new Children and Young Persons panel. Morduant commended the recent showcase by design duo Teatum Jones, who included two disabled models in their opening show at London Fashion Week, and encouraged that more needs to be done to cater for disabled consumers. 

'This Girl Can’ campaign is back

The campaign from Sport England is back again to shake up the world of female advertising. Normalising fitness and finding strength in the every day, the new campaign offers a mirage of jiggles galore that celebrates the real female form to inspire confidence. A thumping soundtrack and a narration of activist Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem Phenomenal Woman make the ad even more kick-ass than its predecessor.