BETA
Close

From CoverGirl To Pageant Queen: Celebrating A New Era Of Diversity

Culture

Diversity in the fashion industry is growing more than ever, and now the effect seems to be trickling down to the beauty sphere, especially since mainstream beauty brands like CoverGirl have taken big steps to make equal representation a priority in their new product campaigns.


After announcing vlogger James Charles as their first ever CoverBoy, CoverGirl has now appointed YouTube beauty sensation Nura Afia as one of the newest brand ambassadors. Proudly wearing a hijab in campaign ads and YouTube tutorials, Afia has become the first hijab-wearing woman to face a major United States-based beauty brand. This all ties into CoverGirl’s new #lashequality campaign, which Covergirl hopes will inspire younger audiences to be proud of their own individual uniqueness.

Nura Afia by Getty Images

“Finding beauty by identifying with your culture is what beauty is all about.”

- Dr. Annette Nunez

“All of our Cover Girls are role models and boundary-breakers, fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe, and redefining what it means to be beautiful,” says CoverGirl representatives via an email statement.

You also may have also been hearing a great deal about history-making Halima Aden, especially since she has become the first contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant wearing a hijab and burkini. Like Nura Afia, she hopes to use her platform to encourage younger women, while also dispelling any negative stereotypes and beliefs surrounding Islam.

"Even though I got a lot of love and support from Muslims, non Muslims, parents, and young girls, I also got backlash," Aden tells SWAAY. "People were telling me that I wasn't 'American.' Someone said I wasn't "Muslim." Some people think I should have worn a bikini because a Burkini isn't the American traditional swimsuit. I ignore all the negative comments."

"The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group,” Aden recently said to ABC. "I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women."

Despite the backlash, Aden says she remains undaunted in her quest to move the needle towards equality.

"I have a lot of little girls in my family," she says. "It pains me to see how underrepresented they are. With all the negativity that has been going around, I wanted to spread a positive message about being inclusive and standing up for what you believe in." Aden also says she focuses on the positive, and counts her mom as her role model.

"My mother motivates me," she says. "She's been through so much raising me and giving me all the proper tools I needed to succeed. I'm so grateful for the values that she instilled in me at an early age. She's the kind of woman I want to be like when I get older."

While it’s taken quite some time to see equal representation in cosmetic ads and pageants, Dr. Annette Nunez, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Breakthrough Interventions, finds the newfound diversity in the beauty-sphere to be extremely promising, especially since it will give younger generations a public figure to relate and look up to.

“This is definitely opening up people’s minds,” says Dr. Nunez.

“These individuals are role models for younger audiences, encouraging and empowering them to be proud of who they are, and not to be ashamed of their culture.”

With different kinds of women finding more representation in the beauty sphere, Dr. Nunez also hopes that this will help inspire women to embrace their own cultural identity, as well as encouraging them to apply to more positions that will reflect their own uniqueness.

“As we’ve become more accepting as a culture, the publicity from CoverGirl and Miss Minnesota USA could definitely encourage more women to step up, and apply themselves to bigger roles.”

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.