How you can create a better world for people with visible differences
Hello everyone! I’m Lauren, Changing Faces Partnerships Manager and huge Avon fan – my favourite Avon product is your Ultra Matte Lipstick – helping me feel confident on all those zoom calls!
I’m delighted to be a guest editor for Avon’s blog today, especially as it also marks the start of National Inclusion Week. This year’s theme is Time to Act: The Power of Now and I’m here to share how you can act today to better support people with visible differences – as well as highlight the leading role Avon has played in challenging beauty stereotypes and celebrating difference.
Positive representation matters
1 in 5 Avon customers, associates or representatives live with a visible difference - a scar, mark or condition that makes them look different. This can be something you’re born with, like a birthmark, or something you experience later in life – like scarring from surgery or hair loss from cancer treatment.
One of the things Changing Faces, as the UK’s leading charity for everyone with a visible difference, hears a lot from our community is ‘I never see anyone who looks like me’ on the TV, in films or fashion and beauty. This has a devastating impact on body image, mental health and wellbeing.
Our research, carried out by Savanta ComRes, found that more than half (54%) of people with visible differences feel regularly ignored by businesses and brands. The research also revealed that this was having a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people with visible differences, with half of respondents (51%) citing that they have felt self-conscious or embarrassed as a result of their visible difference.
One of our ambassadors, Catrin, was 19 when she was in a coach accident and experienced significant burns. Whilst she was in hospital recovering, she couldn’t see anyone who looked like her in the beauty magazines she enjoyed and couldn’t see what her life could look like going forward.
We need to see a future where there’s more positive representation of difference in adverts, TV, film, and popular culture – to create a world that values and celebrates uniqueness. Our partnership with Avon is an example of how we are driving this change.
Our partnership with Avon
We were so proud when Avon became the first beauty brand to sign up to our Pledge To Be Seen campaign, calling on companies and brands to change the way they represent and include people with a visible difference.
Avon made the pledge following the launch of Stand4Her – a global initiative that aims to improve the lives of 100 million women each year – and after research revealed that 80% of women claim to feel too much pressure from the media to be perfect, and 60% feel pressured to meet a certain beauty standard.
Catrin went on to make history by starring in Avon UK’s ‘Perfect Nudes’ campaign. The studio came to a standstill when Catrin first went in front of the camera – it was an iconic moment.
Catrin said at the time, if it meant one young girl or woman with a visible difference had seen the campaign and felt seen… and heard… that it would have been worth it.
In the end, our campaign reached billions of people across social media, TV and radio, as well as featuring in the beauty magazines that Catrin loves.
And our partnership continues to go from strength to strength.
Our Herstory fragrance collaboration saw five Changing Faces ambassadors tell their own story in a powerful campaign. The sales of the fragrance have raised £140,000, while challenging beauty standards.
Committed to making beauty accessible for everyone, we launched inclusivity training in May 2021 for all Avon representatives and associates, giving them confidence to deliver excellent service to all clients – after our research found that over a quarter of people with visible differences report receiving bad customer service.
Avon also adapted their beauty consultation forms, supporting Reps to use the right language and offer the best possible client experience.
Avon has played an industry-leading role in normalising and valuing women who look different, alongside inspiring customers and representatives. But we are not stopping there.
My top tips on how you can better support people with visible differences
Sign up for our allyship email course
Become a visible difference ally. Take our free, short course, to be a better ally. You’ll learn more about living life with a visible difference, and it covers topics like what language to use, why we may stare in the first place and how to stop the stare.
Follow us on social media
Follow our social media channels for a more diverse and inclusive social media feed:
Talk about difference
We want to get more people talking about visible difference and disfigurement, the prejudice people can face, and how we can challenge stereotypes about visible differences. You can help by hosting your own Face Equali-Tea Party, which comes complete with conversation starters.
Sign up for email updates
We campaign on everything from better representation of visible difference and disfigurements in film to preventing hate incidents and hate crimes. Get our regular supporter newsletter to keep up to date and support our work. Sign up here.
Donate to Changing Faces
Your gift can help build a world that provides people with a visible difference with the confidence, support and the opportunity to lead the life they want. Find out more on how you can donate to Changing Faces.
And finally, thank you, Avon. A huge, heartfelt thank you from me to every single Avon representative, associate and customer for your support.
I hope you can take a moment this National Inclusion Week to reflect and celebrate on the difference you have made and be inspired by the small actions you can take today, that will have a big impact.