You may have noticed a shift in advertising in the beauty industry lately, with a focus on unconventional beauty and an increase in showcasing unique styles and atypical models. This transition is due, in part, to consumer demand for equal representation in the media, and the continual rise of internet tutorial videos and self-made experts in the cosmetic and personal style fields of business. Originality and customization are the new norm, and the starring role is open to everyone who’s interested.

Alternative style has been a recurring theme, highlighted in many runway and high-end fashion shows, where details are copied right from the outfits being sported by bystanders on city streets. Designers are inspired by individuality and creativity, often exemplified by people who want to stand out from a crowd, using their clothing and image like a social suit of armor. The change we are seeing, however, is that normalcy is no longer a mainstay, and couture is stealing the spotlight. Take Belfast’s first Alternative Fashion Week, where fairy tale fashion will share the catwalk alongside gory and gothic looks. This is a theme visited by well-known fashion houses, with the difference being the types of models used. For her premiere endeavor, Belfast photographer and Equal Fashion Magazine founder Shelley Rodgers plans to feature LGBT, mobility-impaired, and considerably more mature individuals to showcase the looks.

Ad campaigns are in the midst of changing the face of beauty, too, by using “non-models” as a fresh, realistic approach to selling everything from clothing to skincare. Top retailers like Free People have released printed material with portraits of their customers belonging to the company’s online community, FP Me, highlighting favorite personal care products — and the public approves. These pictures convey honesty and diversity not often portrayed in mass publications. Readers of these magazines desire the ability to relate to what they see, and this, in turn, leads to innovation in product development, and a wider consumer following.

Increasing public curiosity and popularity surrounding the culture of drag is driving the popularity of male cosmetic use, as well as the presence of YouTube tutorial videos. Patrick Starrr’s videos were so well received that his recent followers topped out at 90,000, earning him a signature nail polish collection with beauty giant Sephora. In a move both unexpected and influenced by public demand, Cover Girl announced its very first cover boy, James Charles, making the company’s stance in the industry well known, and if the recent Emmy success of television series RuPaul’s Drag Race host, RuPaul Charles, is any indication, this social movement is changing the way the world identifies with artistry and allure.

What each person finds attractive is personal, and subjective, but the scope of what is considered beautiful is widening, and we are witnessing the changes being made in the industry. Pretty can be defined through many different looks and attributes, and beauty, after all, is not just skin deep.

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