Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who decides what's beautiful?

Carly Fleischmann, a University of Toronto student with autism and a prominent disability advocate, has launched a brilliant Facebook campaign calling for a COVERGIRL model with autism.

Carly is a teenager who was unreachable until she typed a message on a computer at age 10. Her story's been covered widely in mainstream media and she co-authored Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism with her dad Arthur.

Now Carly is asking: "Why can't we all be cover girls?"

On its Facebook page, COVERGIRL says it's "an advocate of women rocking their own kind of beautiful."

I'd like to see examples of that in its advertising. 

Carly's campaign is timely because tonight we have New York fashion photographer Rick Guidotti talking about his own quest to redefine beauty at a BLOOM speaker event.

Rick has worked all over the world shooting for companies like L'Oreal, Revlon and Yves Saint Laurent.

But he left that industry to travel the world capturing images of children we don't usually get to see in popular media: those with genetic conditions. 

Children who look different in this way are typically rendered invisible in our culture. You don't see them in mainstream advertising or as part of the parenting magazine landscape.

"In fashion I was always frustrated...because I was always told who I had to photograph," Rick says. "I was always told who was beautiful."

Rick's non-profit Positive Exposure "gives people permission to see beauty and interpret beauty in their own right," he says. "These kids are gorgeous, we're just not allowed to see it."

I love that two trailblazersCarly and Rickare asking us to open our eyes to the idea that we choose to see beauty. It's a choice!

And in other news touching on beauty and disability, special-needs bloggers were quick to demand Sephora withdraw a new lipstick its promoting called Celebutard. The Kat Von D lipstick combines the words 'celebrity' and 'retard.' The company says it's pulled the product (although it still appears on the Sephora website).

Enough said.