The Flaw in Flawsome
Is the well intentioned brand-championing of our individuality actually working to reinforce outdated beauty ideals?
Flawsome is intended to be a powerful statement of self-acceptance. In the recent Diesel, 'Go with the flaw campaign', we see a strong, youthful cast emboldened by their imperfect beauty. They wear their scars (monobrows, braces and big ears) with pride, defying the unattainable and unhealthy expression of physical ‘perfection’ so intensely perpetuated by the fashion industry.
Flawsome has a worthy intent, but over the past decade the term has been overused and misappropriated. In well intentioned, but overzealous brand activations and beauty blogs we are seeing the celebration of any and every unique physical feature as flawsome. But red hair is not a flaw. Gap teeth are not a flaw. Freckles are not a flaw. Smile lines are not a flaw. These are simply examples of natural diversity and each is perfectly valid and holds its own beauty. Through overuse, Flawsome has become the condescending notion that we should label all of our differences as defects, shortcomings or weakness and applaud the transcendence of these alleged obstacles to acceptance and personal happiness..
After trending unchecked for several years, I would like to see this buzzword relegated away from brand aesthetics and into attitude. Rather than perpetuating our preoccupation with physical appearance, let’s get under the skin.
Flawsome is its most positive and powerful when it helps brands to find their humanity. In the latest tear jerking instalment of the P&G “Thank you, mom” campaign, the Love Over Bias spot explores the prejudice that olympic athletes have encountered and overcome, in large part due to the unconditional love and support of their mothers. The film promotes discussion about bias and its limiting affect on human potential. P&G encourages us to look beyond the things that divide us to celebrate the dreams and willpower that we share.
With their tenacity and work-in-progress attitude, flawsome brands inspire us on a journey of self-development. Reebok got it right when Ronda Rousey fronted their #PerfectNever campaign, “Perfect never gets to silence its critics. Perfect never gets a shot at redemption.”
Flawsome need not be all big names, big budgets and religious gravitas. It can be adopted to great affect as a light hearted, everyday philosophy. Just like us, brands make mistakes. What matters, is what happens next. By taking a flawsome approach, brands can refresh public opinion with their honesty and authenticity. KFC charmed audiences with their response to supply chain issues and store closures. The response was immediate and witty. "A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It's not ideal". No hiding, no spin, just wholly relatable and admirable admissions.
These brands have lifted the tone of the flawsome movement. I look forward to seeing more brands offer genuine empowerment by shifting focus from the superficial to attitudinal.