Rihanna’s new Fenty campaign celebrates this model’s scars, and we’re so here for it

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Christobel Hastings
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 03: Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Anniversary Event on October 3, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Rihanna is continuing in her quest for inclusivity with a boundary-breaking new campaign that’s changing the face of fashion

First came a groundbreaking 40-shade foundation range for a spectrum of different skin tones, then a diverse cast of models in her AW18 Savage x Fenty lingerie fashion show celebrating women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Now, Rihanna is pressing ahead with her mission to expand the parameters of beauty with her latest fashion venture, Fenty.

Rihanna has been one helluva busy woman of late, what with expanding her complexion range, unveiling a brand new neon makeup collection and filing a trademark for “Fenty Skin” (stay ready, beauty fans). Personally, we’re still fizzing with excitement that Fenty Beauty will be coming to the British high street hero, Boots. 

So, if you’re in need of a recap, this is the designer collaboration Rihanna is creating with luxury powerhouse LMVH, which she unveiled last month in Paris. The new ready-to-wear fashion line is the singer’s first foray into the fashion industry, and totally makes sense, given that she’s a style icon in her own right. There’s also the rather impressive fact that Fenty Beauty generated a whopping €500 million in its first full year in operation, which is no mean feat.

And while we’re totally obsessed with all the power-suiting, contemporary denim and nu-age sunglasses in the new collection, the promotional photos for her latest campaign have caught everyone’s attention for leaving one model’s facial scars totally unretouched.

The striking woman in the frame is South Sudanese model Aweng Chuol, who was scarred during a childhood accident. As you can see from the campaign images, the use of Photoshop airbrushing used so pervasively in mainstream beauty imagery is nowhere to be seen, only a bold, unapologetic close-up of Chuol’s scars. 

In an interview with Dazed last year, the model expressed hope that society would widen its restrictive beauty standards instead of focussing solely on her disfigurement, even as her culture celebrates scarred skin as a mark of individuality. 

 “Sometimes I just want to shout at everyone: ‘Look at me, I’m not just a scar, I’m a human.’” she began. “But I get it, it’s a curiosity. I know I’m different, I know my facial features are different, but to me that’s beauty.”

“They are part of who I am. I had it instilled in me from a young age that my scars made me beautiful. They were normal in my culture. They’re seen as a sign of coming of age or becoming a woman.”

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On Twitter, Fenty fans were especially vocal about Rihanna’s diverse celebration of womanhood. “I love that the images used on Fenty are not retouched, and that the models skin is not perfect by societal standards,” one user by the name of Farah wrote, with others praising the campaign for continually switching up the beauty narrative. 

It’s plain to see that this fearless representation is resonating with women worldwide, and cementing Fenty’s status as a game-changing brand. There are no tokenistic stunts, only an unwavering commitment to diversity at the heart of Rihanna’s creative endeavours, and a desire to show the “multifaceted, complex, vulnerable yet bulletproof” intricacies of womanhood. Watch this space. 

Image; Getty