For centuries, societies have imposed rules upon what defines beauty - not just in the way one looks, but also how one thinks, feels, and acts. These rules may differ as you cross borders, and may evolve with time, but we can never seem to escape the existence of these ideals that determine how one should be to be deemed beautiful.
In our multi-ethnic community, beauty standards have been a cause of much debate and controversy - but while we are struggling to accept what should constitute as beauty ideals in Singapore, we miss the real, underlying problem: since when did beauty become a competition?
As the world’s sporting talents are gearing up for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, a band of top athletes have joined forces to declare a battle against beauty standards that they’ve never signed up for, led by cult-favourite beauty brand SK-II.
We think there’s no better time than now, for us to reevaluate this toxic outlook on beauty that has defined how we should look, feel, and act to be beautiful, when all eyes across the world would be scrutinising every player on display at the biggest competitive event in humanity.
While competition can be a beautiful thing that pushes us further to be the best we can be, like in competitive sport, there is one place where it is completely unnecessary and toxic – beauty. In response to this, SK-II has teamed up with top Olympic athletes to declare Beauty is #NOCOMPETITION, challenging women worldwide to shatter toxic and unsolicited beauty ideals and define for themselves what beauty means to them.
Top Olympic female athletes such as Simone Biles, the world’s most decorated gymnast; Liu Xiang, world-record holder swimmer; Kasumi Ishikawa, table tennis player and two-time Olympic medalist; Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo, badminton duo and Olympic gold medalists; Mahina Maeda, surfer; and Hinotori Nippon from Japan’s national volleyball team are lending their voice to the campaign. They opened up for the first time on their personal experiences with unsolicited beauty pressures on social media.
Biles shared about her struggles with beauty trolls, denouncing hate comments on her body and pledging to step away from the competition of beauty standards.
Ishikawa delved into a critical aspect of toxic beauty competitions: the self. The athlete admitted that self-doubt is a problem that she contends with, but emphasised that she will stop letting external and internal pressures hold her back from achieving her full potential.
Takahashi and Matsutomo expressed their appreciation for each other, asserting that their unity and mutual support are what allows them to overcome any doubts and competition.
Maeda highlighted the toxic nature of a beauty competition that she never signed up for, but found herself stuck in. In an inspiring declaration, the surfer announced her departure from these beauty rules, choosing to make her own.
Each competition season, Hinotori Nippon faces doubting comments on whether their smaller statures will allow them to beat often bigger-sized opponents, especially in a sport like volleyball. This year, the team has had enough of living up to other people’s ideals, declaring that nothing will limit them at Tokyo 2020 - not even themselves.
The athletes’ proclamations come together to convey a stark message about the twisted ways that beauty has been defined in society, and more importantly, are calling for a much needed change in mindset: “We won’t compete anymore. Beauty is #NOCOMPETITION.”
SK-II hopes this campaign will spark a much-desired dialogue on challenging conventional beauty ideals, and inspire millions across the world to redefine their own perceptions of beauty.
Speaking at the Makers Conference, Ms YoeGin Chang, Brand Director of SK-II Japan, said: “Beauty can be many things – but one thing it should never be is, a competition. As the world directs its attention towards and celebrates the greatest competition for humanity, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we want to take this opportunity to call out the toxic competitions in beauty that women face every day, that dictate how they look, feel and act.
“SK-II is, at our core, a human brand. We want to use our voice as a force for good to create positive change in the world today. We would like everyone to join us by lending your voice to #NOCOMPETITION.”
SK-II has made the first move, and it’s now your turn to stand for this groundbreaking cause. To find out more about how you can support and lend your voice, visit the #NOCOMPETITION website.
Changing deeply rooted perceptions on beauty may seem like an uphill task – but every change starts one voice at a time.