When Khandiz invited me to guest edit this issue of Untainted Magazine: Icons and Iconoclasts, I instinctively visualised a mood board of individuals who I deemed to be ‘Beauty Icons’. From Marilyn Monroe’s bouncy blonde curls and Bridgette Bardot’s signature cat-eye to Cindy Crawford’s beauty spot and Brook Shields’s untamed brows, my mind conjured a clear picture of a “beauty icon” – and she was a slim, cisgender white woman.
A quick Google search confirmed that I wasn’t alone in my narrow definition. The results threw up images and listicles featuring screen queens, songstresses and supermodels, the overwhelming majority of whom shared the same Caucasian features. The message rang loud and clear – our collective notion of a “beauty icon” is far from inclusive.
Growing up as a mixed-race Asian woman, this restrictive euro-centric criteria for a beauty icon was damaging to my own sense of self-worth. When I looked into a mirror, white skin, blue eyes and a ski-slope nose did not look back at me. It took the better half of my later teenage years to develop the awareness and confidence to accept that this did not stop me from being beautiful, and even “iconic”, myself.
Today the beauty industry is making noticeable strides in inclusivity and finally waking up to the truth that beauty is multifarious. An exciting revolution is taking place and its one that is being led by us increasingly conscious consumers who demand more responsible practices that are respectful to the planet and the people living on it. Iconoclastic disruptors in the industry are paving the way, shaking things up and responding to our calls for untainted products and marketing campaigns that celebrate individualism and cater to our vibrant and diverse societies.
“Salvation lies not in the faithfulness to forms, but in the liberation from them."
— Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
It seems that our collective concept of iconic beauty is being redefined – and that’s exactly what this edition aims to explore through multiple avenues. This tenth issue of Untainted Magazine celebrates these promising waves of a sea change bubbling under the surface of the beauty and wellness sector. From history to present day, we champion those icons who have broken moulds and pushed boundaries; those who we are all familiar with and those who have been pushed to the peripheries. They have captured our imaginations with their courageous individuality and encouraged us to follow in their footsteps of unbridled authenticity.
In a world in which consumerism, disposability and waste are the status quo, perhaps it is the renegade nature of an iconoclast that makes one an icon. Considering the status of a beauty icon in the context of our dying planet, I propose that maybe it is the bold individuals shattering toxic practices and archaic paradigms who are today’s icons, the ones who are paving the way for a brighter future, or in fact, any future at all.
For this issue, I did a deep-dive into my own definition of a beauty icon, and I hope that it inspires you to do the same. By expanding the definition of an icon, let this issue be an invitation for us to take it upon ourselves to act ‘iconically’ in the most revolutionary sense of the word – to collectively make positive and conscious choices that will change the narrative, stand the test of time and inspire generations for decades to come.