Growing up, I’d sneak in my sister’s room to read her giant collection of Vogue magazine which she has collected for years. I’d go through the thin, frail pages, reading about Gisele Bundchen’s beauty secrets and gazing longingly at these tall, super-thin supermodels wearing haute couture by iconic designers such as Vera Wang and Stella McCartney. As I stared at those high-quality photographs and revered these magazines like a bible, their images established a definition of “true beauty” in my mind as a young girl.
As I got older, boastful brat that I was, I liked to show off my petite figure. I thought my body type was the model of perfection because of what I saw in fashion magazines, and I wanted to show that to everyone as a way to prove myself that I really was “pretty”, as a way to validate my worth. When I found out the boys in my class were having growth spurts and getting taller, I’d pray every night that the same would happen to me: I wanted to be slender with long legs, just like those glamour girls in between the covers of Vogue.
During my childhood, I never perceived myself as “beautiful” because I wasn’t tall enough, I didn’t have blue eyes like Cara Delevingne on the front cover of Elle, I didn’t have the high cheekbones or well-structured jawline of your Claudia Schiffers. I didn’t like my small monolids and the fact I had brown eyes; I resented the fact that I had chubby cheeks and that my lips were too big. I thought my natural features were obstacles stopping me from achieving my perceived “perfection”. But as I aged and matured, I began learning about the true realities of media and fashion: I learned that, over the decades, they themselves created and maintained this unhealthy beauty standard of boned or toned European-looking models with spotless skin and divine bone structures. They shoved these images in front of the faces of young girls (and boys) to teach them that “this is beauty”—leading to widespread self-esteem issues among young people like me.
Luckily, in this generation we have confident and strong women such as plus-size model Ashley Graham and America’s Next Top Model contestant Winnie Harlow—women outside fashion’s traditional norm who have lately taken the reins of the industry, using their power and poise to spread body positivity. Their individuality has turned fashion campaigns from processions of monotony into powerful messages that promote inclusivity and diversity.
Browsing through Instagram, scrolling past posts from Candice Swanepoel and Kendall Jenner, I came across a brand known as Nünude. Their iconic photo—of fourteen women of different colors, shapes, sizes and ethnicities—is something that truly deserves to be remembered for its multi-femme power. Each woman wears a two-piece in a different shade of “nude”—the color that defines their products and aesthetic.
The United Kingdom-based company has all kinds of shades of nude in their clothing and accessories, using this as a way to redefine the word “nude” into something that includes all women. According to their about page, their main mission is to unite women and change the way we are represented in fashion and the media. As I already mentioned, I grew up reading magazines featuring European models with blonde or brown hair and fair skin who were taller than my parents and had cheekbones like a god, and this hindered me from seeing an example of true beauty that was right in front of my nose (or behind it, as it were): myself, au naturel. Seeing this campaign with a wide variety of different types of people was comforting and truly empowering, and there is a relevant message behind it that’s particularly important for the young generation, especially if they are to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
With an incredibly diverse range of amazing women strutting their stuff in Nünude’s simple yet versatile clothing, the confidence and body love on display throughout the campaign remind us that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Brands like Nünude and the people behind them help me to believe that there is no such thing as perfection. They represent those who have been hidden and forgotten by the standards of “ideal beauty” placed upon society by the media, and encourage us to celebrate our differences rather than shame them.
In today’s society where intersectional feminism is slowly making its way into our generation, Nünude plays an important role in women’s empowerment. It opens our minds and provides us an assorted depiction of women rather than a look through one perspective; it raises the representation for women who are different: women of color, women of differing sizes or appearance, women with unusual skin. Thanks to Nünude and their inspired marketing, co-founders Vabyanti Ellis and Joanne Morales are on the path to establishing a true inclusive representation of women.