Whether you realize it or not, every time you see an ad or ad for a beauty product, and the camera turns to a celebrity’s hands, it’s almost always a hand-held model. . It’s the same story when stars apply nail polish, show off a new collection of engagement rings, or test drive a car. Whenever hands are needed in the advertising space, models are recruited to intervene. Now think carefully about all the hands you’ve seen – was any of them a plus size? Not really.
If a person’s hand has never dictated whether or not they can wear nail polish, rings, or have healthy, shiny nails, why don’t more ads reflect that? Although the fashion industry has come a long way with curvy initiatives, the nail industry is still lagging behind. Concrete example: images of non-small hands are rare. Lack of hand diversity becomes problematic when the sole purpose of a business or beauty advertisement is for a brand to convince you that the product is essential for your life and will make you feel more beautiful. So why exclude such a large part of the population? We study the why – and what needs to be done about it.
The problem with nail ads
At one point, the media and their audience decided what an aesthetically beautiful hand looked like and created barriers to entry for anything that wasn’t. “A beautiful conventional hand has flawless, firm skin, well-groomed and often manicured fingernails, and usually features long fingers”, actor and model hand Griff Stark-Ennis said POPSUGAR. “More masculine hands will have a bit more flesh, while female hands tend to be thinner.”
Samara Walker, Founder and CEO of Àuda.B, believes that this societal conditioning – that a beautiful and acceptable hand can only be thin – plays a role in the problem of fatphobia in this country. “Fatphobia and restrictive norms of femininity are so ingrained in our society that ‘secondary’ body parts can be left out of the conversation,” she said. “But body positivity means celebrating and showing the beauty of all parts of everyone’s body, including hands. “
The inherent message sent by the lack of hand diversity is this: If you don’t have small, narrow hands, you are not in your place. And because the public has always come to believe that the only definition of beauty includes a thin white hand, it can really affect self-image if they don’t fit that mold. Photos of hands may seem like a small thing, but they play in the same systemic trope that idolizes European characteristics.
To be clear, there are definitely a few exceptions. Accounts like All hands are good hands on Instagram, showcase different sizes and colors of hands; others like People of the beauty of colors focus on the gap for people of color. Yet these examples are not demonstrated at the rate that accurately describes what America really looks like.
How the nail (and beauty) industry can change
The biggest consensus among manicurists we spoke to: Things need to change. “It would be amazing to see practical hands against ones that look like porcelain,” said Chris Cabrera, founder of the nail brand. Naturally London. “I believe imagery helps improve a story and tells readers what to expect and I accept. ”
When you scroll through social media, watch jewelry and engagement ads, or see a nail ad on TV, the images are little snapshots of normalcy, beauty, and acceptability. . These narrow stories affect you whether you know it or not. “It can be difficult, not to say intimidating, trying to enter a space where you’ve never seen yourself represented,” Walker said.
Cabrera says that until the root of what our society defines as “beautiful” is addressed, there will continually be unbalanced representation across the board. Walker added: “There is a knowledge gap in the industry which leads to many unconscious exclusions, and we have to make an effort to do better and understand where our blind spots lie.”
The problem with the prejudices and stereotypes that lead to fatphobia and ultimately a lack of representation is that the biased things we hear and see as children become the lens through which we end up evaluating. the world. That’s why Walker thinks no one is actively thinking about hand size – and that’s the problem. The solution? “The responsibility lies with the people who hire and research the hand models, create the advertisements and purchase the photos for stock photography,” Cabrera said. “These people must ensure adequate representation.”
Hands appear all over the ad, and there is no doubt that the nail industry lacks representation. If consumers don’t see people they can relate to in media and stock photography, it becomes difficult for them to feel welcomed or celebrated. Once we broaden our scope of what beauty is and move to more inclusive and representative practices – via hand models and the media – then the industry as a whole will begin to change for the better. the best.