challenging ideals of beauty, body shape, and gender binaries with generation z
Meet the kids who want to be their own kind of beautiful.
Photography Matthew Stone
A far cry from the days when beauty only meant one thing, when models had to be of a certain size, shape, and skin colour, and when gender norms defined what society deemed acceptable, in 2015 anything can be beautiful. Tired of unrealistic ideals about body shape and beauty, and bored of racial stereotyping and gender binaries, Generation Z are leading the way for a new kind of beautiful that shines from within and stems from individuality. Like diamonds in the rough, we meet the kids who are putting their fingers up to Photoshopped perfection in a bid to be their own kind of beautiful.
"For me beauty was always more of a feeling, a state of being." @melaniegaydos
Despite being born with Ectodermal Dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder that causes abnormalities to the hair, teeth, and nails, Melanie Gaydos has never let it get in the way of achieving her dreams. Sure, it's not always been easy; from being bullied to having suicidal thoughts, it has taken Melanie a long time to feel comfortable in her own skin. But fast-forward to today and the 26-year-old is currently working as an actress and model, and is hugely in demand.
"The beauty of beauty is its subjective nature. It is the magical moment when the inner intentions meet the outer shell of the physical. I find strength in beauty when it's earnest and vulnerable." @boychild
With her tribal body paint and electric coloured contact lenses and Bliss tattooed on her neck, Boychild is the shaven-haired beauty who lights up the stage with her trancelike dances. Contorting her body into a kind of genderless ''cyborg'', the performance artist and Hood By Air model, has been redefining the very meaning of gender and beauty with every twist and turn she makes.
"Beauty is about exploring and embracing yourself and everything that makes you unique, physically and mentally. Also it's about finding that in everyone else. I find beauty in everyone and that is such a liberating and satisfying thing. The media generally feeds narrow ideas of beauty, but once you open your mind to the beauty in everyone and everything, it's magical <3" @stefania_model
Drop it like it's hot. Calling for the end of ''plus size'' bullshit and the fashion world's warped idea of what a woman's body should look like, Stefania Ferrario is the Australian model teaming up with Ajay Rochester in a bid to #DropThePlus and have all models accepted for who they are, not what size clothes they wear.
"Beauty is being authentic and fearless and fluid. It's adventurous and creative, never sterile, and always evolving. #beyoubetrue'' @elliottsailors
With a jawline that could cut through butter and eyes that stare right into your soul, Elliott Sailors is the most handsome woman around. Modelling both menswear and womenswear, her androgyny blurs the boundaries of gender, and opens up the confines of beauty to a whole new world of possibility.
"Beauty is an opinion - it is not a law. Like every opinion, its statement is both true and untrue contingent upon the perspective of the person considering it. We have to accept that we may not be beautiful to all people- because we cannot control their opinions. However we can control our own. As long as you understand that you are beautiful, and state it- then as much as it might be untrue to others, it is also truth because you believe it. The minute something is "truth" it's real. Believe your truth, and your truth will become REAL change." @raindovemodel
Growing up believing she was ugly, and bullied for looking like a boy, it wasn't until Rain became a firefighter that she began to feel comfortable with her ambiguous gender and sexual identity. After losing a bet during a game of football, she turned up for a casting call, was told to come back the next day for the men's, and has never looked back since.
"I have no intention in being anyone's ideals. It's much too exhausting." @palomija
The best things don't always coming in small packages. In fact, the best things don't come in packages at all - so stop trying to label them. Take Paloma Elsesser, for example, the writer, model, waitress and student who despite struggling with her racial identity and weight in the past, couldn't be more beautiful if she tried.
"What I've seen is raw beauty happens when an individual is aware of who they are, who they aspire to be and their potential to be just that. Someone with that sense of self-awareness can't help but radiate beautifully." @itsarifitz
Ari Fitz is the handsome young model turned menswear vlogger who runs the clothing line: TOMBOYISH. Defying the boundaries of gender even further, Ari is also girl - something that she proudly announces on her YouTube channel. Who says you have to be one or the other?
''Beauty would be something that is impressive mixed with social norms and subjective taste. I try to push the idea of the norms inside my head since they tend to be a bit repressive. Beauty in people is seen as white, thin and able, normally, which is fucked. Or expensive things are seen as beautiful usually, which is weird and classist. Idk. I think I think about it a lot. But I also try to be like: OK I think his is beautiful…why?'' @arvidabystrom
From close up images of unshaven body hair to unretouched selfies of her blotchy skin, Anti-model and photographer Arvida Byrström has been redefining the feminine with every click of her selfie stick.
''I think that everyone should let people celebrate their lives whichever way they choose to live it. Beauty glows from the inside and out. If you're comfortable with who you are and in your skin, then that's beauty. Happiness is beauty to me and people should share it with others. Like a domino effect!'' @richiephoenix
Reminiscent of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, Erika Linder is the Swedish menswear and womenswear model who has been shaking up the gender boundaries since she first appeared on the scene. Watch Katy Perry's video for Unconditionally and prepare to fall in love.