Leaving Behind the Word “Normal”

You’ve probably seen the term “normal” used to describe skin and body types, along with nearly anything else in your life. Normal is a subjective term that often suggests there is some collective sense of normality. It can also connote a value system where straying from the standard is deemed wrong or undesired. We’d like to discuss the move away from the word normal by diving into the origins and myth of the term, along with brands no longer using the word, and powerful reasons why it’s okay to embrace your abnormality.

The Origins of the Word “Normal”

“Normal” is derived from the Latin normalis, which means “made according to a carpenter’s square, or forming a right angle.” According to Mirriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, in Late Latin, normalis had new meanings, including “according to rule” and  “according to, constituting, or not deviating from an established norm, rule, or principle.”1

Author Johnathan Mooney explained in his book, Normal Sucks: How to Love, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines, that normal is “a word that masquerades as an ever-present universal truth.” He said when the word was first used in Latin, it had nothing to do with people, society, or human behavior.2

Normal and normalis were words primarily used by Latin mathematicians, specifically in geometry to describe a right angle. Mooney explained that over time, it became a universal mathematical truth that a right angle is considered to be a perfect angle. According to Mooney, this is where the meaning of the word normal became both a fact in the world and a judgment of what is right.3 

Bernoulli, Quetelet, and Galton’s “Normal” Research

In 1713, the Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli created the calculus of probabilities. This equation was then taken up by statistical thinker, Adolphe Quetelet, who applied the equation to human beings. In 1835, Quetelet gathered large amounts of statistical data to calculate the most commonly occurring features of the “average man.”4

Quetelet’s research had a vital flaw as he believed his “average man” was also the perfect man. In his research, Quetelet interchangeably used the words “normal,” “regular,” and “average.” In his mind, the words all meant perfect. However, it’s important to note that his research excluded people with disabilities and people of color.5, 6

As Peter Cryle and Elizabeth Stephens wrote in their book, Normality: A Critical Genealogy, Quetelet’s work did all that it could to reduce the gap between the actual and the normal/ideal.

English statistician Francis Galton later updated Quetelet’s work and created today’s concept of normality.7, 8, 9

Exploring the Myth of “Normal”

The word and definition of normal, as used in modern times, is viewed as a sort of myth to many; it tells us that being within the range of what is considered normal is the way to be a thriving member of society. Normality is usually assessed by being in or around the average for any given trait.

Normal vs; Abnormal

Pictured: The “normal” in various discourses   Source: Critical Perspectives

Due to this, it’s largely assumed that, with a few exceptions, it’s best to be as normal as possible to fit in with those around you. This notion implies that being average can be seen as perfect, but if you stray too far from the average, there is something wrong with you — you aren’t being human the right way.

However, humans are remarkably diverse — it has served us well in the past, it’s with us in the present, and it’ll benefit us in the future. For the beauty industry, the rise of “inclusive beauty,” which refers to beauty that caters to all individuals, has helped phase out the word normal when describing skin type, body type, gender, and so on.

When Fenty launched in 2017 with 40 different foundation shades, it sparked a shift in the makeup industry. This revolutionary time in beauty helped other brands realize that diversity is a priority, rather than an afterthought, and that there is no “normal” when it comes to beauty and humans. 

Brands Are Moving Away From Using the Word “Normal”

In 2021, Unilever, which includes Dove, Axe, Shea Moisture, and more, made a pledge to drop the word “normal” from its beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising. This step is part of the corporation’s Positive Beauty Vision, which aims to eradicate exclusionary language and outdated beauty ideals when it comes to beauty products. In particular, how we talk about skin and hair.10

Sunny Jain, former president of Unilever’s beauty department, said of the beauty industry: “With one billion people using our beauty and personal care products every day and even more seeing our advertising, our brands have the power to make a real difference to people’s lives.” Jain’s hope is that this will shape a “broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.”11

Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women, echoed this sentiment: “In order to champion equity, we need to challenge these restrictive ‘norms’ and create societies and communities that celebrate diversity and the unique qualities and ideas that each person brings. Beauty is no exception.”12

Unilever says that seven in 10 people agree that using the word “normal” on product packaging and advertising is dismissive. The brand states that for younger people aged 18 to 35, the number increases to eight in 10.13 This shows that the change is welcome and will help many people feel as though they aren’t being excluded when shopping for beauty and personal care products.

Uniliver Ad

Pictured: Unilever ad    Source: Ad Week

3 Powerful Reasons To Go Beyond “Normal”

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

― Maya Angelou

The quest to be what society often deems as “normal” can prevent us from doing anything out of the ordinary in life. As humans, we are all extraordinary and are born to be different. Here are three powerful reasons to forego normalcy and embrace what makes you special:

  • Normal is subjective. The idea that there is some ideal standard all humans should conform to is unrealistic and can be psychologically limiting. All you can do is trust in yourself, honor your values, and do what makes you happy. 
  • Normal is not easily defined. It’s often easier for people to define the term abnormal than it is to nail down a definition of normal. The reason for this is that there is no clear definition of what normal is; it’s only when someone deviates from what is generally conceived as ordinary that people become concerned with such labels. Instead of worrying about being normal, create your own definition that fits you and your life.
  • Perfection does not exist. Often, when people are trying to be normal, what they’re really trying to achieve is perfection. Perfection is unattainable, and when you strive for it, you may end up focusing too much on perceived flaws and not enough on strengths. Instead, choose to find the beauty in the imperfections.

Don’t Be Normal, Be You.

Humanist Beauty will always stand for radical inclusivity and diversity. Our founder, Jennifer Norman, is a groundbreaking Asian-American woman who has made it her life’s work to inspire life beyond the “normal”. She built Humanist Beauty and The Human Beauty Movement, our parent company, from the ground up in an effort to send a message to the world that all humans are extraordinarily unique. At Humanist Beauty, we know there’s no such thing as normal; there is extraordinary power in your specialness and every day is an opportunity to become the best version of you.   




https://lithub.com/how-exactly-did-we-come-up-with-what-counts-as-normal/ [1][2][3][4][5][7][9]

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-021-10122-2 [6][8]

https://www.unilever.co.uk/news/press-releases/2021/unilever-says-no-to-normal-with-new-positive-beauty-vision/ [10[11][12][13]


A Guide to Inclusivity

The words “inclusion” and “diversity” are so often joined that they are commonly treated as a single term; however, these words mean different things. Author Vernā Myers, an advocate for diversity and inclusion, puts these terms into perspective by saying, “Diversity is being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance.” In this blog, we will explore the meaning and importance of inclusion through the understanding of oppression and “isms,”  tribalism, and unconscious bias, while also exploring a few brands putting inclusion at the forefront of their business model.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, and Equity Defined

“We should try to leave the world a better place than when we entered it.”— Michio Kaku

To start off, it is helpful to define exactly what we mean by inclusion, diversity, equality, and equity. 

Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people is recognized. An inclusive environment promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.

Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.

Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources and opportunities, regardless of their circumstances. 

Equity recognizes that each person has varying circumstances and needs, and therefore different groups of people need resources and opportunities allocated to them accordingly to thrive.

Understanding Oppression and “Isms” as a System

In the world today, everyone possesses or is possessed by an “ism.” An ism has various definitions. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is defined as “a doctrine-theory-religion; prejudice or discrimination based on a specified attribute; and adherence to a system or a class of principles.”

Initially, isms were associated with religion; Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism are the most recognized religions that end with this suffix. However, over time, the definition of “ism” has taken on a connotation of repressive bias. For example, sexism is the practice of discriminating against a set of people based on gender, while racism is the systemic oppression of people based on race. These isms, along with many others, intertwine on personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels…

Personal Isms

The personal level is associated with our values, beliefs, and feelings about individuals different from ourselves. Growing up, we are given direct and indirect messages about our values. The institutions that we interact with as children and adults, such as schools, faith communities, and judicial systems, commonly support those values.

Since we are inherently grouped based on race, gender, class, religion, and other identities, we are also getting subtle and not so subtle messages of superiority or being the norm that others need to be measured against.

Interpersonal Isms

At the interpersonal level, the focus is on our actions, behavior, and language as we interact with individuals different from us. If one believes that “poor people are poor based on bad personal choices,” they may try to change these individual’s thinking by shaming them for their choices, lecturing them on making better choices to improve their life outcomes, or not taking into account the complexities of living in generational poverty.

Institutional Isms

The institutional level includes the rules, policies, procedures, and practices, which are written and unwritten within an institution that defines who is welcomed and can fully participate.

A written policy may state that only individuals with certain degrees or formal education can apply for certain jobs, excluding individuals who may have informal experiences or other wisdom that could be considered valuable for the position. 

An unwritten policy may be that as a male you need to keep your hair well groomed to be considered for a leadership role within the organization, possibly excluding men who grow their hair long for spiritual or religious reasons.

Cultural Isms

At the cultural level, the focus turns to how we define what is right, normal, truthful, or beautiful. These isms are projected through the social standards embedded in the media and accepted by a society. 

This could look like a national leader offering skewed cultural messages and then national conversations and policies being informed by this “truth.” These cultural messages and norms can be direct, indirect, or both, and serve to maintain power and privilege for those in dominant groups.

About Tribalism

Tribalism, understood as “groupness” or “group affiliation,” has been an inherent part of human history. Tribes have naturally formed to cohere groups based upon shared geography, family, interests, experiences, beliefs and/or values. While the phrase ‘finding your tribe’ is seen today as a positive sign of group belonging, the inherent byproduct is the “othering” of those who don’t belong. Tribal conflict ensues when a group battles with another for survival, resources, ego, and/or power. Competition between “tribes” of humans can be as serious as warfare or as jovial as cheering for a sports team.

Today, social media makes it easier than ever for individuals to connect with others and find new people that they relate to. Social communities can enhance life experience by fostering friendship and building rich connections. The discernment is to identify when social media algorithms create disconnect from others who are different or have dissimilar points of view. By expanding the people who you are connected to, social media can broaden your horizons and help you grow to become more inclusive.

The antidote to tribalism is dialogue, active listening, and breaking bread together in the search for understanding and common ground. Ultimately, our goal is to build the tribe we all belong to, which is that of humanity. When we can see each other as human beings, we change destructive tribalism into constructive tribalism.

About Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is the tendency to act from a range of assumptions and proclivities that we are not consciously aware of. This can include decisions or actions as well as hidden influences on decisions and actions that we believe are rational and based on objective unbiased evidence and experience.  

Gender bias in the workplace, for example, leads to predetermined views of talent, creating inequalities of men versus women. This bias leads to the thought that one gender may be better for leadership than others. 

We can combat unconscious bias by consciously asking ourselves, “Is there anything that makes this person more or less qualified than any other individual?” By implementing this critical thinking, we can more readily make an informed and unbiased decision on who should be promoted or hired for a specific role.

Usually, what we say represents our conscious beliefs, while what we do defines our unconscious beliefs. Nonetheless, our conscious beliefs often influence our subconscious. Interestingly enough, this thought process is a key factor in manifestation. By voicing, affirming, and living our conscious thoughts, we can change our reality into something more inclusive and diverse.

Dr. Karen Morley has researched how unconscious bias can affect the choices of individuals and has developed three ideas to combat unconscious bias:

  1. Having biases is normal; the key is to be aware of what your biases are, as this helps you actively manage them. You can measure your unconscious bias by taking the Harvard Project Implicit Test
  2. Take the time to deliberate over decisions. This allows you to reduce the likelihood that your unconscious beliefs will bias your decisions. Fast decisions usually rely on unconscious processes which increases the likelihood of bias. 
  3. Actions are the real test. Words can make a huge impact, but the truth is that actions can make an even bigger one. To take action at work, for example, try reading through policies and rules to see if they foster an inclusive environment. If not, you can bring it up to someone in charge.

Inclusive Brands Changing the Game

When ads accurately reflect consumers’ personal preferences, styles, and ways of living, they can create a sense of belonging and inclusion. Additionally, featuring people of distinct backgrounds in settings viewers can relate to can help build authentic connections with members of new target audiences. 

Here are a few examples of brands that are moving the needle on representation. They are widening the demographics used in their marketing to promote inclusion, diversity, and equality:

Good American

Good American 2022 campaign

Pictured: Good American 2022 campaign   Source: The Impression

A wonderful example of a brand widening demographics is Good American, which is led by Emma Grede and Khloé Kardashian. Good American has championed inclusivity and made it a mission to have every woman seen and heard. The brand has an annual nationwide casting call for diverse women to model in its seasonal ad campaigns and showcases a model in every size (00 to 24) on its website. 


Pictured: Nike’s full coverage swimsuits  Source: Nike Swim

Nike’s “Until We All Win” focus has inspired people all across the globe. The brand states, “Nike believes in the power of sport to unite and inspire people to take action in their communities. Equality isn’t a game. But achieving it will be our greatest victory. Until we all win.” Nike also goes beyond a campaign with expanded product offerings, such as its full-coverage swimsuits that feature hijabs. 


Dove’s long-running Self-Esteem Project Campaign (2004-2022)

Pictured: Dove’s long-running Self-Esteem Project Campaign (2004-2022)  Source: Dove

Dove, a Unilever brand, has created campaigns focused on real people — people of color, the LGBTQ community, and people of all ages and body types. Its “Real Beauty” campaign brings the brand down to the level of consumers, not to the level of models or people of a so-called “perfect” size. Dove has also shaped messaging for children, starting at critical ages, to eliminate negativity around body shape and size, such as with its “Self-Esteem Project” campaign.

Mattel’s Barbie

Barbie's Fashionista Line 2022

Pictured: Mattel’s 2022 lineup of Barbie Fashionista Dolls   Source: Good Morning America

Mattel has done a great job with Barbie in recent years by moving away from its traditional definition of “dolls” to take a more inclusive approach. This was partially driven by consumer sentiment, but the result is a much wider representation of children. The Barbie Fashionista Dolls of 2022, for example, feature dolls of varying ethnic backgrounds and include those with disabilities.

How to Be More Inclusive in Your Everyday Life

“Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action.” – Arthur Chan

It’s common to think that an inclusive model of behavior has to do with others; however, it’s important to start with ourselves and our own level of awareness and openness on the subject. Here are a few simple strategies to become more inclusive in your daily life:

  • Amplify more voices: Whether you’re on social media, run a blog, or share some sort of content regularly, it’s important to amplify and share more than one voice. If you have employees, utilize your team. Hear their stories, learn their skills, and let them be heard. To learn more about what it means to amplify diverse voices, you can listen to this episode of the Grow Kinder podcast. 
  • Promote accessibility. Whether you’re offering remote work, multiple channels of communication, or even having an elevator or wheelchair ramp, there are several ways in which you can improve the accessibility within your office. Click here to learn more about making your workspace more accessible and inclusive.
  • Be mindful in your communication. When communicating with those around you, be mindful of the tone of your voice, what you say, and how it’s directed. Forbes shared a great blog on mindful communication that may help if you’re struggling.
  • Be open-minded: Meeting new people and learning new things is one of the many “plusses” in life. So, when meeting these people, especially the ones that you may perceive as “different,” consider them, their life, and their talents with an open mind. Click here for a few tips on how to live life with an open mind.

Humanist Beauty Stands For Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality

The Humanist Beauty brand was developed with inclusivity, diversity, and equality in mind. The brand is part of The Human Beauty Movement (The HBM), a company with the mission to inspire acceptance and humanity of all people, regardless of race, age, skin tone, ability, gender, or beliefs. The HBM facilitates radically inclusive connections of humans to products, services, and each other so they can learn, grow, and thrive in a more inclusive and diverse world. You can join The HBM community here.

How do you feel about the state of inclusion in the world? Let us know in the comments!

The Origins of Beauty

From an ancient Roman anti-aging cream recipe to the 12th century “Trotula,” a set of medieval texts with formulas for skin care and perfumes, the desire to make ourselves more attractive stretches back through history. Rather than embracing the subjectivity of beauty, though, societies have instead categorized these qualities into beauty “standards.” In this blog, we’ll explore the many definitions of beauty, the Darwinian Theory of Beauty, the beauty standards that shaped history, and why these standards are still changing today.

What is Beauty?

I say beauty comes from within – you are beauty and beauty is you. You are a masterpiece – a work of art. There is only one you, made up of your genes and life experiences. And there will never be another. – Segun Garuba-Okelarin

The Oxford dictionary defines beauty as: “A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight,” while philosopher and teacher Confucius said of beauty: “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.”

Popular phrases also define beauty as:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  • Beauty is pain
  • Beauty is only skin deep

So what is beauty? Various cultures have different definitions and perceptions of beauty. From the Kayan tribes who believe that long necks are the ultimate sign of beauty and from age five, start priming their necks with heavy brass rings, to several parts of Asia where pale or white skin is often seen as a sign of beauty and affluence.

Maria-Alina Asavei, a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher in the Russian and East European Department at the Institute of International Studies at Charles University, says, “We often fail to make clear what we mean by “beauty,” even if we use this word quite frequently.”

Asavei continues: “When we appreciate something as beautiful, we implicitly accept that X is a source of positive aesthetic value or aesthetic appreciation. In the history of philosophical aesthetics, there are many theories and definitions of beauty. Despite differences, most of these theories connect the experience of the beautiful with a certain type of pleasure and enjoyment.”

Yet many would argue that by our very nature, there’s a certain universal set of indices that inform beauty. Alan Moore, a former designer, believes that beauty isn’t about what something looks like; he often speaks about it in terms of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Dirac’s theorem, spirituality, and the laws of nature.

“At an atomic level, everything is connected; they dance and are attracted to one another at a nuclear level. The law of nature seeks things to be made of symmetry and harmony, and even in opposites they’re complementary: we have night and day, up and down. We’re all made of the same stuff molecularly, so we intuit beauty – we know it to be the life-enhancing force.”

While Asavei and Moore have their own views on the definition of beauty, many other researchers, authors, and philosophers have also dipped their toes into the topic.

Denis Dutton: The Darwinian Theory of Beauty

Denis Dutton

Pictured: Denis Dutton   Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Despite the subjectivism dominating contemporary society, there are still some renowned authors who maintain that in beauty there is objective value, such as the philosopher Denis Dutton

Here is a breakdown of Denis Dutton’s TED Talk:

Denis Dutton developed a Darwinian Theory of Beauty. According to this theory, “The experience of beauty is one of the ways that evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest in order to encourage us towards making the most adaptive decisions for survival and reproduction.” 

As an example of natural beauty which seems to appeal to every human being, no matter our geographical provenance, he speaks of the savannah landscape. Dutton states that this landscape is where we have evolved and points out that it shows up everywhere today, like on posters and calendars.

Savannah Landscape

Pictured: Savannah landscape   Source: All Posters

To illustrate artistic beauty, which more frequently than not is deemed the result of cultural conditioning, Dutton offers us the Acheulean pear-shaped hand-axes associated with early humans, which were first found in France. Dutton argues that their sheer numbers show they cannot have been made solely for butchering animals.

Moreover, the fact that many of these hand-axes are too big for butchery and many others show no evidence of wear and tear on their delicate blade edges, seems to suggest that they served other functions. Dutton’s belief is that these artifacts are, in reality, the earliest known works of art. 

Pear shaped hand-axe

Pictured: Pear-shaped hand-axe   Source: Science Buzz

His reasoning for this is that they were transformed from practical tools into what Darwinians call “fitness signals.” These “fitness signals,” Dutton explains, work like the peacock’s tail, displaying to potential mates desirable personal qualities, which in the case of the Homo Erectus or Homo Ergaster would be signs of “intelligence, planning ability, access to rare materials, and fine motor control.” 

After Homo Erectus came Homo Sapiens, and as Dutton points out, they clearly found new ways to amaze each other: perhaps by telling jokes or dancing, through hair styling, storytelling, and so on. He continues on to highlight the fact that for us moderns, the element that has continued to matter is this aspect of how impressed we are by the skill of creating and doing something extraordinary. 

He jestingly tells us that the next time we pass by a window of a jewelry shop displaying a beautifully cut pear drop-shaped stone, we should not be so sure that it’s only culture telling us that that sparkling jewel is beautiful. The reality is that our forebears also loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it.

So concluding, he asks: ‘Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No!’ he exclaims. Not at all! It’s rather deeply present in our minds and a gift handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our ancestors.” 

To learn more about Dutton’s theory, you can watch his TED Talk here.

How Beauty Standards Have Evolved

Beauty comes in all different forms; from art to design to fashion. However, physical beauty standards tend to respond to the shifting political and social landscapes, and they continue to change with the times, according to beauty and wellness writer Kari Molvar.

“So much about how beauty is being defined right now has a political undertone to it,” she said in a phone interview with CNN, noting how both the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements have inspired responses from the beauty industry.

In her book, The New Beauty, Molvar charts the evolution of beauty standards and the forces that influenced them from antiquity to the present day. It’s a wonderful reminder that the idea of beauty has been shaped by everything, including industrialization, gender politics, and the media.

Beauty From the Land

In the 17th century, Europe was a growing center of global commerce. A network of trade routes brought exciting new foods to the continent. Pepper and sugar, as well as new meats, cereals, and grains, were now available. They were not only sold to the old upper class but also to the gentry, a new group of wealthy landowners.

“All of this naturally led to plumper bodies,” Molvar wrote in her book, “which forged a new beauty aesthetic.”

Renaissance artists, like Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, helped popularize the fuller figure as a new body ideal. Buxom women with soft physiques were idolized on the easel with their dimples, ripples, and all. 

But it wasn’t entirely progressive, Molvar noted. “It’s a shape that is largely celebrated for its biological function, fertility,” she wrote. “And the ability to fulfill the desires of men.”

Peter Paul Rubens Painting

Pictured: A painting by Peter Paul Rubens showing the ideal beauty standard for women   Source: ELYSIAN Magazine

Around 300 years later, another shift in agricultural rhythms saw a new aesthetic come onto the scene in the US. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the arrival of the “Gibson Girl,” a character devised by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, with long legs. Unlike previous images of women with large busts and hips, though, the Gibson Girl was not vulgar or lewd. 

The Gibson Girl represented a new kind of American woman that was wealthy and educated; she was emblematic of the new freedoms of the industrial age, despite hailing from a class that likely never took part in farmwork.

Gibson’s creations could be found in the pages of Life magazine, commonly engaging in high-energy pursuits like swimming or horseback riding. These hobbies trickled down through society to shape a new beauty standard. The new defining features were a slim, athletic build and windswept hair loosely pinned and very voluminous.

The Gibson Girl

Pictured: The Gibson Girl    Source: ELED

Beauty From Liberation

While beauty standards may be oppressive by their very nature, they’re sometimes shaped by the shirking societal norms. In her book, Molvar detailed the “certain amount of liberation” afforded to some White Western women during the 1920s, and the impact this had on beauty and style.

The desired silhouette moved from corseted curves, cinched in at the waist, to a more androgynous shape that “freed women’s bodies.” Makeup also evolved. Instead of only being used to smooth one’s complexion, it was now “intended to shock and stand out,” Molvar wrote.

Women during the 1920s

Pictured: 1920s women     Source: Library of Congress Blogs

1920s Makeup Looks

Pictured: 1920s makeup looks     Source: Hair and Makeup Artist Handbook

Molvar also noted the emergence of the “Black is Beautiful” movement from the 1950s to the 1970s. The phrase was, in part, popularized by the work of photographer Kwame Brathwaite, who shot portraits of dark-skinned models wearing Afrocentric fashions with their hair in afros or protective styles

“It was a way to come up in a beauty system that privileged European notions of beauty,” Tanisha C. Ford, co-author of the book Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful, said.

Brathwaite’s art encouraged Black communities to embrace their natural features, despite prevailing beauty standards being overwhelmingly White. “African American women and men expressed their political support for the cause through their physical appearance,” Molvar wrote, “choosing to leave their hair free … in lieu of straightening or styles that conformed to the standards of white society.”

The Black is Beautiful initiative aligned with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and illustrated how powerful and political cosmetic rituals could be.

Kwame Brathwaiten portrait

Pictured: Portrait by Kwame Brathwaite   Source: BBC

Beauty From Progression and Inclusion

Former CEO of cosmetics giant L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon, predicted a swing towards decadence reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties, which followed the 1918 global influenza outbreak; similar to the state of our world following the Covid-19 pandemic. “Putting on lipstick again will be a symbol of returning to life,” he told investors in February, according to the Financial Times.

In 2018 and 2019, the beauty industry experienced its highest level of growth. Over the past three years, celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Emma Chamberlain, Peyton List, and Pharrell have all launched either skincare or beauty lines.

Molvar believes that what we are now seeing is an absolute revolution. “Usually beauty trends and ideals take centuries to change. And the change comes so slowly,” she said. “But with the digitalization and the globalization of the world, we’ve been exposed to so many fresh ideas, thoughts, and points of view, the whole notion of what beauty is has just completely blown up.”

Expectations around taboos that have been honored for centuries, like wrinkles and aging, to perceptions of women’s body hair, are changing. “You can see it with the young folk,” Molvar said. “They’re questioning everything, like, ‘Why do we need to shave our legs? That’s an annoying habit. Why would we do that?’

For example, Billie, a start-up selling uniquely packaged razor kits, has raised $35 million in seed funding since 2017 after its depictions of women’s body hair went against the norm. In 2022, Calvin Klein also ran a campaign that featured Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Leon, that normalized body hair.

Lourdes Leon for Calvin Klein

Pictured: Lourdes Leon for Calvin Klein   Source: Popsugar

Elsewhere in the beauty space, makeup has become a tool that belongs to both genders. Tom Ford and Chanel have both helped bring male makeup to the mainstream by launching men’s beauty lines in 2013 and 2018. Since then, other big names like Fendi and Dior have jumped on the bandwagon by showcasing men in makeup within their campaigns and on the runway. By 2024, the male grooming market is estimated to be worth $81.2 billion.

Boy de Chanel Campaign

Pictured: Boy de Chanel campaign    Source: Chanel

Dior Men's Campaign 2022Pictured: Men’s makeup look on the Dior runway in 2022    Source: Grazia Magazine

The beauty standards of today are becoming more fluid with individuals tapping into their true selves to show the unique, more freeing standards that they deem beautiful. Today, it’s not about what everyone else thinks is the perfect body type; it’s about the beautiful admiration one can hold for themselves. 

A Study on Changing Beauty Standards

The dominant standard of female beauty in Western media may have vacillated slightly over the decades, but for the majority of the 20th and 21st centuries, symmetrical, toned, white, and thin women have been advertised as the “ideal” by mainstream media. 

Increased visibility for diverse body types has ramped up significantly in recent years, showing that there isn’t just one kind of female body that’s beautiful. And for millennials raised on the internet, having a diversity of different types of bodies in the spotlight is wonderful for body positivity. 

But what influence could different images have on people who’ve never experienced mainstream media, or the beauty “ideals” it espouses? This new study aimed to answer that question, and what it found was that body standards changed much quicker than people might have previously believed.

The scientists behind the research wanted to find out how images of thin models might affect ideas about an “ideal” female body in people who’d never been exposed to those kinds of images before. They traveled to Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast, a deeply isolated area where villages have no electricity, and therefore no exposure to television or film. 

Eighty volunteers, male and female, in those villages were recruited and asked to describe their ideal body shape. Half were shown 72 photographs of plus-size models, and the other half were shown 72 photographs of thin models.

Experiment Photos

Pictured: Sample photos used in the experiment   Source: Cold Springs Harbor Library

The entire process lasted about 15 minutes, at which point the scientists then asked the villagers to describe their ideal body image again. The people who had been looking at plus-size images made their idealized female bodies fit that standard, while those who’d been gazing at size zero women also changed their ideal to fit what they’d seen. 

Ideal body size graph

Pictured: Pre-test to post-test difference in ideal body size between groups   Souce: Cold Springs Harbor Library

The shocking element of the experiment was that it only took a small amount of exposure to this imagery for the subjects of this experiment to shift their ideals completely. However, the experiment didn’t measure how long the effects of the

The big lesson to take away from the Nicaraguan experiment is that images, of any kind, can warp our beauty standards within the time it takes to bake a cake. Knowing about why that is, through media literacy and other education, can stop it.

In Conclusion

The idea of beauty has its roots in every facet of humanity. What we consider beautiful can stem from magnificent tools that were used for hunting in ancient times or from farm life during the 17th century. The origins and evolution of beauty are truly fascinating and can teach us how the world around us shapes our thoughts and views.

As for the definition of beauty, perhaps the answer is within you. Perhaps you are beauty, personified.


What did you think of this article? Let us know in the comments below.

The World Needs More Inclusive Beauty

The beauty industry has long been criticized for not reflecting real consumers and not catering to those with special needs. Thankfully, things are starting to change. The industry is evolving to show more diversity and acceptance, and products are being launched to meet the needs of consumers who had previously been overlooked. But so much more needs to be done.

The Call For Diverse Representation

The model images we see in advertisements and in the media greatly influence our views on who and what are deemed ‘beautiful’. The more we are exposed to media, the more likely we are to compare ourselves to the images we see. And when the images don’t look like us, over time, we get the message that we aren’t seen and aren’t attractive. One study concluded that only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.1 That leaves 95% of women subject to feeling as though they don’t measure up.

On the other hand, most Americans (63%) say they are inspired by beauty brands that show diversity in advertising. They say they want to see diversity in ads to better reflect real life and show that there are different ways to be beautiful.2 Additionally, 21% of adults who actively use beauty products have sought out beauty brands that promote diversity, while 20% mention a willingness to pay more for a product from an inclusive brand.3

Here are a few brands that have been recognized recently for demonstrating inclusive representation:

Fenty Beauty

In 2017, makeup brand Fenty Beauty was introduced by Sephora’s Kendo Brands and pop star Rihanna. Many praised the launch for its extensive foundation range of 40 shades (now expanded to 50) and its multiracial marketing campaign. Today, many brands have followed suit and expanded their makeup lines to include a wider variety of shades. Additionally, Rihanna herself as a spokesperson exudes self confidence in her curviness, helping to promote body positivity and quash body shaming.

Fenty Beauty Foundation Range

Pictured: Fenty Beauty’s Foundation Range
Source: Fenty Beauty

 Fenty Beauty Foundation Models

Pictured: Rihanna for Fenty Beauty 
Source: People Magazine


In 2020, Gucci Beauty launched a campaign titled “Unconventional Beauty” which celebrated “non-stereotypical beauty”. Ellie Goldstein, an 18-year-old British model, now holds the honor for being the first down syndrome model to be featured in a Gucci advertisement. Additionally, most of the creative team that worked on Ellie’s photoshoot for Mascara L’Obscur were also disabled.

Ellie Goldstein for Gucci Beauty

Pictured: Ellie Goldstein for Gucci Beauty 
Source: Vogue

MAC Cosmetics

First introduced in 1994, The MAC AIDS Fund, now called the MAC Viva Glam Fund, has raised more than $500 million by donating 100% of the proceeds of its Viva Glam lipstick to support the fight against HIV /AIDS as well as healthy futures and equal rights for women, girls, and the LGBTQ+ community.4 MAC underwrites the production costs of the VIVA Glam line and demands that department stores take no cut.

As a brand, MAC has long been an advocate of diversity and inclusivity. The original brand founder, Frank Toskan, said that he wanted his company to cater to minority groups others generally ignored, and he wanted to hire the so-called “weirdos” and misfits of the world to work behind their counters. When the brand first started selling in high-end department stores, the retailers tried to tell the MAC makeup artists how they should dress, act and speak. “At that time, you couldn’t wear black, you couldn’t have tattoos, you certainly couldn’t be a crossdresser or even effeminate,” Toskan said. “We wanted people to be who they are. We demanded to be left alone.” 5

RuPaul was the very first spokesperson hired for MAC and Viva Glam. After that, diverse personalities like Elton John, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Ricky Martin, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George and Nicki Minaj represented the line. For Viva Glam’s 25th anniversary in 2019, MAC tapped Winnie Harlow, the model famous for her vitiligo skin condition, to recreate the original RuPaul campaign.

RuPaul for MAC Viva Glam

Pictured: RuPaul for MAC Viva Glam  
Source: Pinterest

Winnie Harlow for MAC Viva Glam

Pictured: Winnie Harlow for MAC Viva Glam 
Source: PopSugar

About Disability and Accessibility

According to the CDC, in the United States alone, 61 million adults, that’s 26%, live with some form of disability.6

  • 13.7 percent of people with a disability have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
  • 10.8 percent of people with a disability have a cognition disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
  • 6.8 percent of people with a disability have an independent living disability with difficulty doing errands alone.
  • 5.9 percent of people with a disability are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing
  • 4.6 percent of people with a disability have a vision disability with blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
  • 3.6 percent of people with a disability have a self-care disability with difficulty dressing or bathing.

Despite the preponderance of people with disabilities, they are not often considered when beauty brands are designing new products or packaging. The frustration felt among those with visual impairment, reduced mobility, body tremors, and limb loss can be overwhelming when trying to shop, select, open and use any given personal care or beauty item. It’s no wonder that 57% of people agree that there need to be more beauty products for individuals with mobility challenges, such as packaging that can aid in painting nails or applying makeup.7

Fortunately, more brands today believe that having a disability shouldn’t stop anyone from being able to use and enjoy beauty products, and some are finally beginning to introduce ‘universal design into their products to enhance accessibility for all.8 Here are three brands we’re happy to spotlight that offer products with accessible packaging:

Guide Beauty

Guide Beauty was founded by Terri Bryant, a professional makeup artist who in 2010 started noticing unusual stiffness spanning from her left shoulder down to her fingers. In 2012, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and she thought her career would be over. Her love of makeup and determination caused her to seek out solutions to facilitate cosmetics application, not only for those with unsteady hands, but for all people who want to master the perfect cat eye, brow shape or mascara strokes. The products she launched are made to be hand-steadying, easy to grip, easy to open, and easy to use.

The products she launched

Guide Beauty Products
Source: NY Times

Kohl Kreatives

Kohl Kreatives is an inclusive brand that specializes in stylish makeup tools for people with impaired motor skills. It’s famous for its flexible makeup-up brushes that bend to make applying makeup easier and more comfortable. Kohl Kreatives’ vegan brushes have an easy-to-grip base in various shapes that allow you to get into those hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, a percentage of Kohl Kreatives’ proceeds are donated to Kohl Kares, which focuses on empowering people through makeup.

Kohl Kreatives The Flex Collection

Pictured: Kohl Kreatives The Flex Collection
Source: Kohl Kreatives


Cleanlogic rebranded this year, complete with an updated look and a shift to all-paper packaging. By eliminating its traditional soft plastic packing, Cleanlogic was able to print braille on every product. The brand also partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind to ensure accuracy. Cleanlogic has been advocating for more awareness of visual impairment in the industry by supporting nonprofit organizations and hosting pre-pandemic blindfolded dinners with retail executives. Additionally, the brand believes that it’s important for everyone to acknowledge that the CDC projects that visual impairment cases will double over the next 3 decades.9

Cleanlogic Sport Line with Braille Packaging 

Pictured: Cleanlogic Sport Line with Braille Packaging
Source: Cleanlogic

The #PullUpForChange Campaign

Uoma Beauty founder Sharon Chuter launched the #pullupforchange campaign on June 3rd, 2020, which called upon brands to release a statement of support for Black Lives Matter by making public the percentage of diverse employees within their ranks. The campaign asked consumers to refrain from buying products from brands until they respond.

Along with the call to action, Sharon also shared a video that relayed important statistics. She mentioned that, according to the Center for Talent Innovation, only 8% of corporate professionals and 3.2% of executives and senior-level managers are Black, as well as only 4 Fortune 500 CEOs.10

In response to the #pullupforchange hashtag, companies came forward with their statistics, even those that did not meet diversity/inclusivity muster within their business employment records. The significance of the hashtag, though, was that it enabled brands to transparently own up to their diversity shortcomings. Many acknowledged that they still needed to do a lot of work to be more representative, diverse, and inclusive. And notably, it helped spawn action plans for companies to develop anti-racist training, hiring, and leadership policies.

Brands that shared statistics in response to the #pullupforchange hashtag include:

  • Kylie Cosmetics: 13% Black, 47% BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color), 53% White, 100% Women Identifying
  • Ulta Beauty: 18% Black Board Members, 13% Black Leadership Team Employees, 6% Black Associated
  • MAC Cosmetics: 18% Black Representation Across the Organization, 17% in the Executive Team, 4.5% at Director Level or Above
  • Becca Cosmetics: 12% Black Employees, 14% Black Executive Officers, 3% at Executive Level or Above
  • Mented Cosmetics: 100% Black Employees, 75% Black Board Members
  • Sephora: 14% Black Representation
  • Urban Skin Rx: 64% Black Employees

Over 70 brands released statements for the #pullupforchange campaign. You can view all the brands that answered Sharon’s call to action here.

What The Human Beauty Movement Is Doing To Support Inclusivity

Even though The Human Beauty Movement, parent company of Humanist Beauty, is founded by an Asian American woman, and even though the company’s founding principles are based upon honoring all humans regardless of color, gender, age, creed, status, or ability, we know that statements are not enough. Currently, the leadership team is undergoing an intensive six-week anti-racist training program led by Hella Social Impact to develop a crystal-clear action plan to ensure the company has policies in place that are founded on justice, equality, diversity, and inclusivity.

The Human Beauty Movement and Humanist Beauty will always stand for radical inclusivity, yet we know we must deliver against our words. In order to inspire all humans to be the best versions of themselves, we must ensure that all stakeholders – from our vendors, to our leadership teams, to our employees, to our partners, to our customers – feel valued, seen, and heard.

We invite you to join us on the journey and hold us accountable. We will always strive to do better and to be better when it comes to contributing to a kinder, more inclusive future for all.




https://www.mediaed.org/discussion-guides/Killing-Us-Softly-4-Discussion-Guide.pdf [1]

https://www.beautypackaging.com/contents/view_experts-opinion/2021-07-06/diversity-and-inclusivity-in-beauty-405565/ [2][3]

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/video/youtube-history/ [4]

https://nationalpost.com/life/fashion-beauty/hiring-rupaul-was-just-one-of-macs-bold-progressive-moves-now-frank-toskan-finally-gets-his-dues [5]

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html [6]

https://www.beautypackaging.com/contents/view_experts-opinion/2021-07-06/diversity-and-inclusivity-in-beauty-405565/ [7]

http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/ [8]

https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/risk/burden.htm  [9]

https://www.talentinnovation.org/_private/assets/BeingBlack-KeyFindings-CTI.pdf [10]


Let’s Get Familiar With The CROWN Act

Black hairstyles have always been highly policed in America, whether it’s in classrooms or the workplace. For black people, though, hair isn’t “just hair;” it’s a piece of their ancestral history, and the unfortunate truth is that the locs, braids, and coils they proudly wear are usually deemed “unprofessional” or “unkempt.” To eliminate hair discrimination, many cities and states have begun passing The CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) to address and bring awareness to the issue.

What is The CROWN Act?

In June 2019, California made headlines for becoming the first state to outlaw the discrimination of individuals based on their hair by unanimously passing the SB 188 bill. The law, also known as the CROWN Act, “prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots.”1 It was signed into law in California on July 3rd, 2019, and expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Code.

The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the workplace and public schools.2 Since its introduction, the CROWN Act has galvanized support from federal and state legislatures in the movement to end hair discrimination worldwide.

The CROWN Coalition

The CROWN Coalition is an alliance of organizations that are dedicated to the advancement of anti-discrimination legislation across the United States.3 The diverse array of organizations that make up the CROWN Coalition has aided in the monumental success of elevating the public narrative around this issue while inspiring a movement to bring awareness to end hair bias and discrimination.

According to its website, the CROWN Coalition’s purpose is to “create a world where Black lives are valued, respected, and free of oppressive systems.”4The CROWN Coalition is on a mission to dismantle structures of systematic racism that perpetuates social and economic disparities for Black people.5

The CROWN Coalition has over 60 members and supporters. While the list is continuously growing, here are a few organizations that make up the CROWN Coalition:

  • Dove
  • National Urban League
  • Color of Change
  • Curly Girl
  • The Women’s Foundation of California
  • Professional Beauty Association (PBA)
  • The National Hair Industry Convention
  • Berkeley City Council
  • And more.

The Dove Research Study for the CROWN Act

The CROWN research study was conducted in 2019 to identify the magnitude of racial discrimination that women experience within the workplace based on their natural hair. A survey of 1,017 Black women and 1,050 non-Black women with ages ranging from 25 to 64 was conducted, but to qualify for the study, the women must have been working full-time in an office or sales position in the past 6 months. According to Dove’s website, 92% of the non-Black sample of women were white.6

pie charts showing more black women work in a field setting than an office setting

Pictured: More Black women work in a field environment (sales) compared to non-Black women

Source: Dove

Throughout the study, Black women were made more aware of the corporate grooming policy than non-Black women. Hair/appearance policies were given to Black women at a significantly higher rate (22%) than non-Black women (17%). Researchers also found that 35% of Black women compared to 23% of non-Black women received company grooming standards. In addition, 32% of non-Black women mentioned they never actually received the corporate grooming policy compared to 18% of Black women.

bar chart showing when black women vs non-black women received policy on appropriate hairstyles

Source: Dove

Dove took the study a step further by testing out job readiness associated with Black women’s hairstyles. They were consistently ranked lower or “less ready” by those who took the survey.

a pictoral representation of blackk hairstyles and sentiments of professionalism

Source: Dove

Where Does Your State Stand With The CROWN Act?

The status of The CROWN Act is constantly changing throughout the 50 states. Since California’s 2019 ruling, though, many more states have followed suit and passed The CROWN Act. Keeping up with the progression of The CROWN Act in each state is a great way to stay up-to-date on this pressing issue and show your support.

The States Where The CROWN Act is Law

  • California (July 3, 2019)
  • New York (July 12, 2019)
  • New Jersey (December 19, 2019)
  • Virginia (March 3, 2020)
  • Colorado (March 6, 2020)
  • Washington (March 19, 2020)
  • Maryland (May 8, 2020)
  • Connecticut (March 4, 2021)
  • New Mexico (April 5, 2021)
  • Delaware (April 13, 2021)
  • Nebraska (May 5, 2021)

The States Where The CROWN Act Has Been Filed or Pre-Filed

  • Utah
  • Arizona (The CROWN Act is law in Tucson)
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri (The CROWN Act is law in Kansas City and St. Louis)
  • Kentucky (The CROWN Act is law in Clayton County, Stockbridge, and East Point)
  • South Carolina
  • Florida (The CROWN Act is law in Broward County)
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts

States Where The CROWN Act Has Been Filed or Passed

  • Wisconsin (The CROWN Act is law in Dane County)
  • Michigan (The CROWN Act is law in Ann Arbor, Ingham County, and Genesee County)
  • Illinois
  • Pennsylvania (The CROWN Act is law in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina (The CROWN Act is law in Orange County, Durham, and Greensboro)
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Ohio (The CROWN Act is law in Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Newburgh)

States Where The CROWN Act Has Been Filed But Did Not Pass

  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Texas
  • South Dakota
  • Arizona
  • Utah
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana (The CROWN Act is law in New Orleans and Shreveport)
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Mississippi
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia (The Crown Act is law in Beckley, Charleston, Lewisburg, and Morgantown)
  • Vermont
  • Maine

How You Can Support The CROWN Act

It’s time to raise our voices and bring awareness to the unfair discrimination many women of different nationalities face due to their hairstyles. Here are a few ways you can show your support for The CROWN Act:

1.    Introduce The Crown Act to Your State

Did you know that you can introduce The CROWN Act to your state’s legislatures? By visiting The CROWN Act’s website, you can view sample bills, such as California’s, to help you get started on your legislative language. Plus, you can contact Adjoa B. Asamoah, a member of The CROWN Act, to learn more about how she can support your efforts to file The CROWN Act in your state. Good luck!

2.    Join The CROWN Coalition

The CROWN Coalition consists of advocacy and non-governmental organizations that seek to end hair discrimination. If your organization is interested in joining the CROWN Coalition, you can visit their website for more information.

3. Sign a Petition

The CROWN Coalition created a petition to end hair discrimination in the workplace, schools, and pools. By signing the petition, you’ll help urge legislatures to vote yes on The CROWN Act. The CROWN Coalition’s goal is to reach 500,000 signatures, and as of a month ago, it’s been signed 300,000 times. The goal has almost been met! Sign the petition here.

Humanist Beauty Supports The CROWN Act

Humanist Beauty strives to always foster inclusion among all humans regardless of color, gender, creed, age, status, ability, sexual preference, or hairstyle. Our goal is to encourage self-love, wellness, and radical inclusivity for all. The CROWN Act is crucial to changing the way natural hair is perceived and judged in the workplace and everyday life. We fully lend our support to The CROWN Act to diminish discrimination based on something as beautiful and unique as hair.




https://www.thecrownact.com/about [1][2][3]

https://www.crowncoalition.com/ [4][5]

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5edc69fd622c36173f56651f/t/5edeaa2fe5ddef345e087361/1591650865168/Dove_research_brochure2020_FINAL3.pdf [6]

The History of LGBTQ+ Pride and Allyship

Today, LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations take a variety of forms, such as parades, parties, proms, and protests. Since the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement, a multitude of Pride celebrations and events have sprung up around the world. However, each occasion is tied in some way to the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City on June 28th, 1969.

Though the world is migrating towards increasing acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination is still a stark reality. The Natural Library of Medicine (NIH) mentions that 57% of LGBTQ+ adults have endured slurs, 51% report experiencing sexual harassment, and 51% have faced violence due to their sexual orientation. Showing allyship with the LGBTQ+ community remains vital for a kinder, more inclusive future.

The History of Pride Month

While the event of the Stonewall Riots was not the first occurrence of LGBTQ+ resistance against police harassment, it is the most well-known. Before Stonewall, a riot took place in San Francisco at Compton’s Cafeteria and another took place in Los Angeles at Cooper Do-Nuts. Each event in LGBTQ+ history laid the groundwork for what the Stonewall Riots solidified: PRIDE as we know it today.

A Look at the Stonewall Riots

In 1967, the Stonewall Inn opened as a gay club in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Though much of the nation had become more accepting of gays, New York was notorious for its strict enforcement of anti-homosexual laws that made it difficult for gay individuals to congregate in public.

The mafia controlled a multitude of bars and clubs in Manhattan during this time. To get around New York state regulations that prohibited gay people from being served alcohol, a young member of the Genovese family named Tony Lauria, or “Fat Tony,” ran the Stonewall Inn. While the Stonewall Inn was far from being the nicest gay bar in Greenwich Village, it was one of the only places the gay community could get together and dance.

During the 1960s, the gay rights movement was building momentum around the nation with the LGBTQ+ community clashing with police in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and many other cities.1 The Mattachine Society, an early national gay rights organization, helped put a stop to police entrapment, but police still raided bars and bathhouses.

On Tuesday, June 28th, the police raided the Stonewall Inn. Word of the riots swept the city with 500-600 people showing up the first night. But on Friday of that week, an estimated 2,000 individuals congregated outside the bar.2

Members of the crowd held hands in a display of public affection and chanted “We Want Freedom Now,” “Gay Power,” and “Christopher Street Belongs to the Queens.”3 To block off Christopher Street, they formed a human chain and turned over a car.

21 people were arrested during the riots and many were injured, but the spark for change had ignited. On June 28th, 1970, many people returned to the streets of Greenwich Village for the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march. The march became an annual event and ultimately evolved into the Pride Parade.

The Pride Parade Then and Now

Within the first years of the Pride Parade, the energy of the LGBTQ+ community was contained to the small area of Christopher Street. Today, millions of people attend the parade to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

It took activists months to organize the first Pride Parade. They maintained that there would be no regulation on age or what marchers wore. During this period, many LGBTQ+ activists held walks and vigils, but they were silent and kept mostly to themselves. The newly proposed Pride Parade would showcase different personalities and a vibrancy that LGBTQ+ individuals often kept hidden.

The activists in charge of the Pride Parade organized many events during the week of the celebration to take advantage of the interest in activism and newly formed organizations. The march’s official chant was elected to be, “Say it Clear, Say it Now. Gay is Good, Gay is Proud,” and those attending the parade would yell the chant for 51 blocks.

A black & white photo taken at the Christoper Street Gay Liberation Day Parade, 1970

Photo Source: NBC News

Today, the Pride Parade has transformed into Pride Month with events taking place around the world in June. In 2019, these countries held Pride festivities:

  • America
  • Brazil
  • Amsterdam
  • Austria
  • Taiwan
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia

To learn more about Pride Month’s 2021 events taking place near you, click here.

Discrimination Against The LGBTQ+ Community

Over the last decade, the United States has made strides towards LGBTQ+ equality. However, the community still faces widespread discrimination. Between 11% and 28% of LGBTQ+ people report losing a promotion due to their sexual orientation, and 27% of transgender employees say they’ve been fired, not hired, or denied a promotion. While LGBTQ+ individuals face a staggering amount of discrimination at the workplace, they also endure it in other aspects of their lives, such as losing their homes, access to education, and the ability to engage in public life.

Only 46% of lesbian, gay, and bi individuals and 47% of trans people feel comfortable disclosing  their sexual orientation to their families, and more than 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ members have faced domestic abuse from their partners. Additionally, 1 in 5 LGBT individuals has experienced a hate crime due to sexual orientation, while 2 in 5 trans people have also endured hate crimes.4

A survey administered by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ people faced discrimination in 2017.5 The study also mentioned that many LGBTQ+ individuals often make significant changes to their everyday lives to avoid discrimination.


A chart showing how the fear of discrimination shapes LGBT people's lives
Currently, 72 countries criminalize same-sex relationships, and for the punishment of these relationships, the death penalty is deemed acceptable, or evidence of its existence exists in 8 countries.6 Additionally, 25% of the world’s population believes that being LGBTQ+ should be a crime.7

These statistics reflect the hardships that many LGBTQ+ members face every day. While the world is moving towards greater tolerance, outright discrimination based on personal beliefs and religious dogma are major hurdles to true acceptance. By taking steps to gain awareness for the key issues affecting marginalized populations such as the LGBTQ+ community and committing to allyship, you can be part of the social movement to drive meaningful change.

What You Can Do To Show Allyship

What does being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community mean exactly? An ally seeks to understand the challenges that LGBTQ+ people experience daily, such as heterosexism, bi-prejudice, trans-prejudice, and heterosexual privilege. An ally feels strong concern for LGBTQ+ individuals and acts to bring true support, acceptance, and advocacy for equal rights and fair treatment.

Here are a few ways you can show allyship to the LGBTQ+ community:

  • Become informed. Ask questions, do research, and don’t be afraid to be honest about what you don’t know. Strive to stay up to date on LGBTQ+ news.
  • Support equality. Champion policies in your workplace or school that aid in protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. Some issues may seem small, but they can make a significant impact on people’s lives.
  • Use your voice. Share what you know about the LGBTQ+ community to spread understanding. Let others know that anti-LGBTQ+ jokes or statements are not okay. Speak up with the courtesy of allowing LGBTQ+ members to stand up for themselves first.
  • Network for greater impact. Consider joining pro-LGBTQ+ groups online. You’ll find like-minded people who can work together to ignite greater change.
  • Appreciate language nuances. Ask for preferred pronouns and terms when describing someone. Try not to assume someone’s gender or sexual orientation. Here’s a helpful vocabulary glossary you can refer to for guidance.
  • Listen to others. Engage with many different people within the LGBTQ+ to learn about their unique experiences. Ask questions, such as what it was like growing up, what the coming out process was like, pet peeves, and how you can best support them.
  • Say goodbye to historical messaging. Become familiar with LGBTQ+ history and challenge stereotypes. Unpack the areas of history that have the LGBTQ+ community wrong. Always ask yourself this question: “Does this reflect the people I know that are in the LGBTQ+ community today?”

Humanist Beauty Strives for Allyship

We recognize that the word ‘ally’ must be earned and never self-ascribed. As such, we are striving to do the work every day to foster inclusion among all humans regardless of color, gender, creed, age, status, ability, or sexual preference. To us, the LGBTQ+ community needs our care and support, particularly vulnerable youth who often struggle in isolation. As such, we will be donating funds to the notable Trevor Project, a highly reputable non-profit organization that provides trained counseling 24/7 for LGBTQ+ teens in crisis. You can learn more about the Trevor Project at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/.


https://www.lgbtqhistory.org/lgbt-rights-timeline-in-american-history/ [1]

https://www.history.com/news/stonewall-riots-timeline [2]

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/an-amazing-1969-account-of-the-stonewall-uprising/272467/ [3]

https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2017/05/02/431672/release-cap-study-shows-one-four-lgbt-people-faced-discrimination-last-year-many-make-significant-changes-lives-avoid-discrimination/ [5]

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/cy/node/24594 [6][7]