The Cara Effect: Models Aren't The Only Standard Of Beauty

Little girls usually have two role models: Disney princesses and supermodels. They’re both meant to be the physical embodiment of beauty: thin waists, full breasts and long, luscious locks that waved around their shoulders like a blanket. We’re taught that beauty has one kind of name: Adriana Lima, Jasmine, Gisele Bündchen, Cinderella.

That’s not to say that those women — real or fictional — don’t work hard. Supermodels have trainers, demanding schedules and diets to maintain. Princesses aren’t allowed to marry who they want or they get kidnapped by dragons. It’s a hard knock life for us all.

But girls aren’t taught to worship princesses and models because they exhibit courage, perseverance, or endurance. They’re taught they’re beautiful, and that beauty is worth aspiring to. Models, especially, have replaced iconic women, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou, as the embodiment of cool.

Cara Delevingne (AKA, my girl crush for all of eternity) has her own beef with the industry that made her famous. Modeling, she explained, made her feel “hollow” and “hate” herself. The stress even caused her to develop psoriasis.

"People would put on gloves and not want to touch me because they thought it was, like, leprosy or something," Delevingne told The Times.

She talked of having to be covered in foundation for every runway show she walked in order to disguise her skin condition.

The fashion industry has pioneered itself to be a field that claims to accept women in all forms — as long as they’re white, thin and tall — yet something like a skin condition that 7.5 million people in the world have is seen as too unique and disgusting to touch?

Brands, designers and labels encourage their followers to "embrace their weirdness," but once they are confronted with it, it suddenly becomes too perverse.

When we talk about the exclusionary nature of fashion, we focus on the “curvy” versus “thin” problem. Models are either Tess Holliday or Candice Swanepoel. There are so many more levels to the issue, and weight is just one of them. Imperfections — whether they come in the form of skin conditions, scars, cellulite or even un-dainty tattoos — are beautiful and not represented anywhere near as much as they should be.

F*ck that. Beauty is beauty and it doesn’t need to come in a 5’10, 120 pound, double-D package to be accepted as such.

Your scars are battle wounds.

Your bruises have stories.

Your post-baby curves remind you what you helped create.

Your folds have been through a journey.

Your stretch marks envelop beauty.

Your birthmarks are for connecting the dots.

Your tattoos make your body a work of art.

Your acne is a reminder of your youth.

Your curves are worthy of a painting.

Your smile doesn’t need correcting.

Your frizz is a reminder that it’s beach season.

Your dimples are every inch as adorable as you.

Your piercings ensure you are never without a bit of sparkle.