The one thing we can say about 2017 with all certainty is that it’s a very strange time to be alive. We live in a period when transgender visibility is at an all-time high, but the President of the United States actively pushes legislation to discriminate against the community. We live in a time when Black Lives Matter is a nationwide rallying cry, but still has to be employed during white supremacist rallies that are straight out of the 1940s. We live in a time when Miley Cyrus can hit the VMAs stage with a team of dancing senior citizens, but women over the age of 45 are made largely invisible in popular culture.
To be sure, 2017 is a place of extreme dichotomies, where marginalized groups have the means to tell their own stories, but still find themselves under attack by conservative forces. Which is why Beyoncé and Rihanna’s latest ad campaigns — for Ivy Park and Fenty Beauty respectively — are so damn vital.
Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty campaign is extraordinarily diverse — which, in itself, is an essential statement to make in an industry that has been so historically lackadaisical about making products that matched the skin tones of non-white women. In addition, the fact that one model is featured wearing a hijab feels hugely important in the time of Trump’s travel ban of six majority-Muslim countries.
Ivy Park’s 2017 campaign goes next-level. All of the featured models are people of color, and include trans actress and all-round champion, Laverne Cox; sexagenarian choreographer, Karen McDonald; model Grace Bol, who rocks a shaved head; and model Ralph Souffrant whose abundant freckles make his an unusual face for much mainstream media.
The whole thing is gorgeous and refreshing and, ohmagahd, just look:
Truly, we are all this Twitter user:
The new Ivy Park models have me shooketh. pic.twitter.com/OMDf0LnxD0
— Jasmyn Lawson (@JasmynBeKnowing) September 6, 2017
Riri and Bey are both using their enormous popularity and taste-making abilities to ensure that people that have been traditionally invisible or marginalized in the fashion and beauty industries are elevated to the highest platforms. Here’s hoping this is one trend that continues well past 2017.