Here’s How Our Perception Of ‘Natural Beauty’ Has Changed Over A Decade

Cast your mind back a decade. The year was 2007; Avril Lavigne briefly made it back into our consciousness with ‘Girlfriend’, the very first iPhone hit stores, ya fave Rihanna dropped ‘Umbrella’, a little show called Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered, and Britney Spears stopped in at a hairdressing salon in California and took the clippers to her iconic blonde hair. It was a year.

But what were our views of beauty ten years ago? Fashion was chocka-block filled with now-kinda-cringey trends like diamantés on everything, the ~preppy look~, denim waistcoats (why), Von Dutch, and studded belts (bring these last two back IMO).

Lindsay, who did this to you. (Photo: Getty / Junko Kimura.)

If we have a peep at magazine covers from that glorious year when I was absolutely neck-deep in thick black eyeliner and listening exclusively to emo (no Mum it’s absolutely not a phase), we can see a reproduction of skinny, slightly tanned women.

Predominantly white, and all in the same pose – weight on one leg, other leg raised so there’s skin showing. A hand resting across a perfectly-tanned thigh. It’s almost weird to see a page full of model pose clones.

Granted, in the time between 2007 and now there’s been a lot of discussion around how photos of models and celebs are transformed from raw photo to what we see on billboards, on magazine covers, on the internet.

Airbrushing and editing tricks have been uncovered, and the potentially damaging effects they have on young people – the folks who are in the formative years of their lives – are a point of discussion as our understanding of “natural beauty” transforms and develops.

As influence from print media has shifted, the last decade has seen social media coming through at full force. Apps like Instagram have become a platform for self-expression, and as the more ~desirable~ accounts and personas curate their feeds with very little accountability, it’s easy to see how it can become a dangerous force for younger users to be critical about their own bodies.

On the flip side, sites like Insta have levelled out the playing field when it comes to exposure and content. As anyone can post content and gain popularity, we’re seeing a broader spectrum of bodies getting the spotlight.

For people of colour, people who are a “normal” (and I use that term very loosely) weight, and people who don’t prescribe to the popular idea of beauty, platforms like Instagram are a space where the norm can be challenged. That’s not to say that these spaces are exempt from negative perceptions of beauty – there’s plenty of people out there airbrushing their own images – but it’s a place where more than one dominant idea of beauty is represented to the general public.

Even looking at how events like Australian Fashion Week have changed in the last ten years – hell, even the last five years – it’s clear that the need to be more inclusive and display a more true and real depiction of beauty has swept through fashion houses. We’re seeing runway shows that are made up entirely of older people, people on mainstream magazine covers that dismiss the gender binary, and as much as it’s a continued debate – people who are of a weight range that deems them “plus size”. (Note: I am a size 14, and I don’t consider that plus size. The average Australian woman is between size 14 and 16.)

While there is further to progress in the way beauty is shown in the media, we’ve come a long way. And that should be celebrated – as all of our bodies should be celebrated, too.

You’re all bloody gorgeous, so if you wanna come celebrate yr bods with us at our pop-up gym in Sydney, enter the comp below for your chance to win a double pass.