meet the generation challenging ideals of beauty, body shape, and gender binaries

Meet the kids who want to be their own kind of beautiful.

by Tish Weinstock
21 April 2015, 12:20pm

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 color, 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, this generation is 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.

Melanie Gaydos
"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 a hugely in demand actress and model.

"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, electric colored contact lenses, and 'Bliss' tattooed on her neck, Boychild is the 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.

Stefania Ferrario
"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 they wear.

Elliott Sailors
''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, that's beauty. Happiness is beauty to me and people should share it with others. Like a domino effect!'' @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. Modeling 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.

Rain Dove
"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.

Paloma Elsesser
"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.

Ari Fitz
"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 a girl - something that she proudly announces on her YouTube channel. Who says you have to be one or the other?

Arvida Byström
''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. People see beauty 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 this 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 femininity with every click of her selfie stick.

Erika Linder
"Beauty is being authentic and fearless and fluid. It's adventurous and creative, never sterile, and always evolving. #beyoubetrue " @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.

generation z
Arvida Byström
Stefania Ferrario
​Elliott Sailors
Gen Z
Melanie Gaydos
Rain Dove
Paloma Elsesser
Body Positive
challenging beauty ideals