‘Fluff Casual Cosmetics’, based out of their studio space on Gertrude St, Fitzroy, are trying to shine a new light on makeup. They’ve asked: where are the women and men with pimples, acne, oily skin, dry skin, pores or blemishes and diverse body types and backgrounds that real people can actually identify with in cosmetic advertising? Then decided to fill this void.
The beauty industry creates and reflects a plethora of unrealistic beauty standards, impressing these ideals on young men, women and non binary individuals. Most of the industry has a complete disregard for representation and diversity when it comes to the models they choose and the products they sell. Going off the majority of advertising, consumers are led to believe that makeup is only for straight, able-bodied, white women with already flawless skin and thin, perfectly toned bodies.
Such unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards are clearly damaging as they lead young people to believe that their beauty can be measured on a scale of 1 to white, big bosomed, thin waisted, flawless cis-woman. Undeniably, girls at impressionable ages are going to feel insecure and self conscious if they’re constantly fed images that they can’t see themselves reflected in. The only option that seems viable in order to feel beautiful is to keep buying makeup, as the advertisements suggest ‘if you want to be beautiful you have to buy all of these products’ – and the vicious cycle of profiting off insecurities continues.
Fluff is directly trying to combat this manipulative and toxic side of the industry by creating something that is more positive and inclusive and sending the message that you don’t have to be perfectly proportioned with luscious long hair and flawless skin, to enjoy cosmetics. You don’t need to be edited and photoshopped to be accepted. People from diverse religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, body types and sizes should all be able to enjoy makeup in a positive way. And if makeup is not their thing, that’s okay too.
I spoke to Coco Sims, one of the members of the Fluff team about her experience working with Fluff and what they’re all about:
What were the motivations behind Fluff ?
Erika Geraerts, the founder of Fluff has been involved in the beauty industry for a while. Before Fluff, she created a very successful company called Frank Body that is now stocked all over the world. Through this experience, Erika saw first hand how toxic the whole beauty industry can be and she wanted to make a difference. Makeup will always be around and it can be an amazing tool for self-expression, but most companies are selling their products by capitalising on people’s insecurities. Selling unrealistic ideals and making consumers feel like they are incomplete without their products. Fluff is a casual cosmetics company that is honest about the beauty industry.
‘Fluff believes in the idea of made up, not made up’ – can you expand on this?
Fluff makes a point of saying that their products are there to have fun with if you are someone who enjoys makeup- but that you do not need their products. Fluff show how their makeup actually looks on all kinds of skin types, they don’t airbrush out pores or blemishes from their advertising and actually put an emphasis on encouraging consumers not to feel like they should be embarrassed by these things or feel the need to cover them up. Erika wants her brand to send the message that beauty is so much more than what you put on your face.
Self esteem is so important for feeling good about yourself- especially in the current age of the internet and social media, where validation can so often be dependent on ‘likes’. What is Fluff wanting to do with the Selfie Esteem project?
The selfie-esteem project is trying to promote self-love by encouraging consumers to shift their ideas around beauty from comparing themselves to others to complimenting each other and focusing on what makes you. It has been a really cool campaign to watch and see lots of young people especially taking the time to compliment themselves and others.
Cosmetics aside, what are the principle goals of Fluff?
Fluff wants to change the conversation around beauty and encourage people to accept and create their own version of beauty. Fluff isn’t just about makeup; Erika is very generous with her success and has put so much work into supporting others, including myself, and using her platform to help people achieve their goals and incite confidence and motive young people; holding workshops, holding panel discussions and more. I feel very lucky to have met Erika, she has taught me soo much in the short amount of time I have known her.
Knowing that Fluff isn’t just about makeup, what would you say to girls who sometimes just feel down about themselves and makeup isn’t going to change that?
Self-love isn’t easy; I think it is really important to remember everyone is feeling the same. Everyone feels down about themselves sometimes. It is much easier said than done but try not to compare yourself to others’ expectations of beauty. Remember that there isn’t just one kind of beauty. What makes each and every one of us beautiful is our uniqueness, every little lump, bump, wrinkle and mark is what makes you, you. When I am feeling down about myself I remind myself of my privileges I have and how lucky I am just to be an able-bodied person. I remind myself that I would never judge anyone else for the same reasons I judge myself or want anyone to feel this way. I take a step back, accept that these feelings are part of being human, remind myself that I am good and take some time to relax. Turn your energy towards something positive. Encourage others and remind them of their greatness, everyone is insecure and you never know how much of a difference you can make with just a few words.
An issue with the ‘beauty’ industry is its ability to shape and project one very small and constrictive idea of beauty, with little to no room for movement. No one gets to decide what ‘beauty’ is except for oneself, the beholder, as said beautifully by Shelby Hamilton “My issue is that people still think they are their face. There are far greater energies and qualities that people possess.”
Instead of providing ‘solutions’ to ‘problems’ you only think are problems because you’ve been told so, it’s about realising that you’re appearance does not dictate your worth – but that makeup can also be enjoyable. For many women, men and non binary individuals makeup is a way to express oneself, it can be an empowering choice, an artistic or creative expression and studies have shown it can also sooth feelings of anxiety. Although often criticized as ‘anti-feminist’ because of outdated beliefs that makeup is used purely to attract the opposite sex, it is now being reclaimed – one can be empowered by their decision to wear it or not. Having and acknowledging this decision gives individuals a sense of power.
New cosmetic companies made for and by women are on the rise, like Fluff, providing spaces for individuals to have more positive experiences with makeup, ones that are affordable and ethical and outside the constraints of the male gaze.
Fluff’s message that ‘y’all perfect in your imperfections’ is one we should all try to live by.
Alice is a volunteer at the Victorian Women’s Trust and studying media and communication stuff. She is passionate about gender equality and believes it will not be achieved until the struggles of all kinds of women are heard. She is also passionate about pizza and her dog Scout.