The past ten years have seen massive advances in beauty and diversity. When Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, it sent shockwaves through a media landscape where putting non-models on billboards was practically unheard of. Dove’s Real Women became the icons of a new awareness of the power of healthy role models.
But, as recent research conducted by Dove and Canvas8 revealed, in 2014 a beauty paradox is at play: despite increasing tolerance, women are still their own worst critics. In fact they’ve become even worse critics. Our survey results show women believe society to be more accepting of different shapes, ages, disabilities and ethnicities today than ten years ago. And yet more than a quarter describe themselves as unsatisfied with their appearance, up from 21% in 2004.
So why is this happening and how will it evolve? We identified four behavioural trends that drove the evolution of beauty from 2004 to 2014 and left us living with The Beauty Paradox.
From Be This Way to Born This Way
With the internet expanding the canvas for self-expression, beauty shifted its focus from establishing rules to expressing individuality. Beauty icons who sit outside of conventional ideals sprang up throughout the decade, from Beth Ditto to androgynous model Andrej Pejic.
Pick and Mix Creativity
Technology put creative tools in the hands of everyday women and gave them access to an eclectic range of influences. Scrapbooking sites and photo-sharing apps have made eclecticism and experimentation second nature, and seen mainstream beauty shift from conformist to creative.
Beyond Skin Deep
Beauty in 2004 was focussed on a glitzy, paparazzi-driven idea of surface glamour. Economic uncertainty and social media encouraged a reassessment of values; a multi-dimensional ideal of beauty emerged. Beauty icons like Cara Delevingne are celebrated as much for their character as their model looks.
Life On Display
In 2014, we are more visible than ever. 65% of the UK public own smartphones, and 31 million are Facebook users. Where once we consumed media, now we are media.
What will beauty look like in 2024?
Due to advances in technology over the past decade, our media landscape has been reorganised – and enabled a reassessment of what we celebrate as beautiful; one that’s still evolving. And yet, at the same time, smartphones and social-media have undeniably intensified our relationship with our own appearance.
If enlightened beauty ideals are opening our minds to a more expansive idea of beauty, it seems they still have a way to go if they are to combat the inevitable self-consciousness and criticism that comes with life lived constantly on display.
Find out how these trends will evolve over the next ten years in the full report at Canvas8.com