We all have our personal hang-ups; mine have always been my teeth. I didn’t need braces so it wasn’t insisted upon by my parents at the time – thirteen with glasses, spots and hair that did nothing but frizz, I felt I had enough going on – but I should have got them. When I would flip through magazines, it was the beauty ads that got to me; the teeth, so straight, pearly white (and airbrushed I know), but so unlike my “natural” smile which I detested. Perfect teeth were my ideal, and what I aspired to have above all else.
Yes, we are slowly seeing diversity in beauty; cellulite where cellulite is supposed to be, laughter lines, magazine covers with no photoshop – diversity is no longer just a buzzword.
Nevertheless, when I saw the recent beauty shots for the Gucci beauty campaign, I stopped in my tracks.
Gucci Beauty’s new campaign for the launch of 58 lipsticks aims to flip the script on what’s considered conventionally beautiful.
According to the brand, Michele’s vision for the line is to represent complete liberty and self-expression, and the campaign “conveys a clear message that authentic beauty lies in imperfection.”
The campaign features four print images, a closeup on each of four models, with various types of teeth. The most attention-grabbing of them all is a close-up of model and singer Dani Miller. Her teeth have large gaps which she proudly displays in a smile.
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It’s a striking photo, and something we just don’t see that often. While there have been successful models and public figures with teeth gaps (Georgia May Jagger and Madonna, to name a few), their smiles tend to fit into a singular type of imperfection: The gap is small, straight and the teeth so white you’d nearly need sunglasses to look at them directly. Here, Dani’s teeth are displayed as yours and mine might be – naturally.
Gucci is the first major luxury brand to shoot a beauty campaign in this way.
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At first, to look at the photographs made me feel uneasy. My mind has clearly been warped into thinking that such ads should only show models with levels of ridiculously perfect smiles to be acceptable – which is extremely problematic. But the more I look at the shots, the more I like them – and I now want all the lipsticks – so you have to hand it to Gucci.
Reaction to the campaign has been mixed; some insist it’s a publicity stunt, others are overjoyed at the realism of varied teeth on display, while one or two are outraged at the “ridiculous images that don’t make the lipstick appealing in any way.” It has provoked a response that clearly shows the varying arguments that we see when discussing diversity; the first that welcome it truly and the other, consisting largely of those who might tend to pay lip service to it (no pun intended), while not really being ready for a new level of beauty to go mainstream.
Conventional levels of beauty are still ingrained in us – if the social media reaction alone is anything to go by. We outwardly say we’re comfortable accepting “differences” but clearly in a very specific way.
— •lex• (@alexis_plain) May 6, 2019
One person commented on the brand’s Instagram, “This is not Gucci at all. Turning a true Italian luxury brand into a joke. This is truly disappointing and very depressing.”
While many people came forward to share their joy at being represented.
“I’ve dealt with the insecurity and shame of my missing lateral incisors all of my life. There is something truly dehumanising about feeling like you’re not allowed to smile or talk too excitedly out of shame. This is beautiful.”
The campaign has eschewed the status quo of what is expected of high-end beauty imagery and reminded us that ‘perfection’ comes in many forms.
Maybe I’ll hold off on the braces.
Main photograph: @Gucci