Victoria & Jennifer, 19, Students
Whats your definition of beauty?
Jennifer: I definitely know that beauty comes from the inside of an individual. Before all of the fancy clothes and makeup, people definitely need to put on a good attitude and a great personality, because it matters more IMO!
Victoria: I know it's cliché to say "beauty starts within", but we have met some 'conventionally' beautiful people and most of them have had stinky attitudes and dull personalities, which is never cool :( So yeah, I definitely have found that beauty radiates from an individual.
Jennifer: Yeah! You can almost feel when somebody is beautiful, maybe because of their kindness or sense of humour, you know?
Do you think the fashion industry fairly represents a broad spectrum of beauty? if not / so, why?
Jennifer: In terms of representation, the fashion industry has got a LONG way to go. There is barely any diversity on the catwalk or in major fashion editorials, and it's just terrible. Having said that though, I am seeing a lot more models of colour instead of the old token supermodels being Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek etc- we have moved in to a more diverse scene that includes models such as Aya Jones, Poppy Okotcha, Pooja Mor, Grace Bol and Neelam Gill, just to name a few. However, the fact that I can pick these names out is worrying in itself. If the industry was diverse enough, I wouldn't have to select models of colour like that!
Victoria: Yeah! Like, you don't say who your fave white models are because shows are constantly flooded with them- they are the beauty standard to 'live up' to, and it sucks because there is so much more beauty available, just in different forms.
Jennifer: The idea of beauty in the fashion world is just packaged into: long flowing hair, lightly coloured eyes, light complexion, and it just isn't enough in a world full of SO many different hair types, skin types, etc!! :-(
How does your work communicate your take on beauty?
Victoria: Well, we are all about representation, and we target a niche market of fashionable girls, particularly black girls, in showing them that they can wear their hair naturally and look pretty, without feeling the inclination to put of weaves or wigs which cover up their natural beauty! All we hope to do is spread a bit of much needed #blackgirlmagic to show these girls that they can rock what they've naturally got, whilst being stylish, too!
Jennifer: It wouldn't be obvious to people who aren't black what our overarching aim is in breaking into the world of fashion/ blogging. We have met, and therefore know that there are black girls who feel like they don't completely fit into black culture and are too 'black' for white culture, if you will, and so there is this gap in which these niche black girls are found, and where our work is aimed at. Our aim by putting ourselves out there like this, is to show that there is a kind of beauty that exists outside of the conventional mould, and our USP of being twins definitely makes this more intriguing, I think!
Do you think a persons appearance, especially in women, plays a part in their general professional success?
Jennifer: Honestly, I can't say that it does. I know discrimination exists, but I can't say that how somebody looks generally stops them from achieving professionally- I have not witnessed this myself! I would have hoped a good work ethic beats all of that. But I do realise this is wishful thinking; realistically speaking, someone's appearance probably can stop one from being successful, particularly woc.
Victoria: In the context of race, it often can, IMO. I saw an article the other day showing how a mixed race employee in Zara was told not to wear her hair in braids because it wasn't their "aesthetic" or something like that. Awful!! So in that respect, yes- somebody's appearance literally can hinder one's success.
How can we break down beauty ideas and conformity within the fashion industry?
Jennifer & Victoria: We can definitely start by showing a wider range of beauty. Whether it's dark skin, freckles, mono-lids or kinky/curly hair, people in the world LOOK like this. People who don't have blonde, straight hair and blue eyes exist, and it is because the media do not show people that aren't within this group of physical aesthetics that people feel the need to conform- whether it is skin bleaching or straight wigs/ weaves, people go through extreme methods to be anything close to this dominant ideology in the fashion industry and in the media as a whole.
If the media & fashion industry can recognise this 'other' beauty and display more diversity in magazines, fashion shows, editorials and advertisements, more and more people wouldn't look to conform to stereotypical beauty standards, because these standards would be DIVERSE; there wouldn't be anything to necessarily conform to. The unhealthy mindset that there must be a certain way we must look to be considered beautiful should, and is slowly dying out with the help of niche zines (like this one!) that promote non-conformity, as well as unapologetic social media accounts that promote these same ideas.
Everyone should be able to see themselves in someone else, and that's the goal. There isn't only one version of beauty that exists-- beauty is in everyone!