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Words We Will Never Say

Two people recline and one puts face oil on the others face

For All Bodies

When you look at visual and written depictions of bodies, what do you see? What would it mean if when you looked “out there,” you saw someone that looked like you? What if that description, definition, or depiction was the very meaning of beauty?

Here are the bodies we see when we look out at the beauty industry:

white bodies
Thin bodies
“Fit” bodies
Heterosexual bodies
Bodies without lines or creases or marks of time
Bodies with all their limbs
Bodies before childbirth
Bodies free from pain
Bodies that are suffering to fit an idea(l) of beauty

There is nothing “wrong” with any of the bodies listed above. They are all bodies. The real trouble starts when you consider all the bodies that are not on this list. If we were to look at that statistically, we would see that the overwhelming number of humans on Earth do not fit into those bodies above. Personally, I could tick a couple of boxes, but definitely not all.

My own body is marked with time. It has scars from when my son was born. It is a body from the “Middle East”—a term dependent on a colonial vantage (middle of what? East of where?). I have some dark spots on my face where the sun has touched me. My arms are hairy. I wax my mustache. I try to pluck my eyebrows, but honestly, they have a mind of their own. My dry skin is well documented. I have a slight overlap in my front teeth that matched my grandmother’s when she was still alive.

Every day, I endeavor to come to terms with who I am and what I look like, and for the most part, I don’t mind my appearance, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t sometimes a victim of the beauty standards that are fire-hosed into my Instagram feed every day. Try as I might to curate my algorithm, they find me. And I find myself thinking, I should try this “anti-aging” cream. Or, my life would be so amazing if I had perkier boobs. When in reality, I also have dreamy dark eyes and eyelashes. My hair is thick and wavy. I love my complexion—olive skin that really comes to life under the summer sun. My cheekbones are defined. I have elegant hands and wrists. I am beautiful. And that is possibly the first time I have ever written those words.

Images on a screen. Words on a page. They hold so much power over our self-image. At Meow Meow Tweet, we recognize this. We understand the responsibility we have to you to represent more. Here is what we are trying to do. Here is what we want you to see and experience when you come into our world:

Brown bodies
Black bodies
Asian bodies
Trans bodies
Gender fluid bodies
Androgynous bodies
Differing-ability bodies
Young bodies and old bodies
Fat bodies
Freckled bodies
Acne-scarred bodies
Your body that is infinitely unique and human and yours

When we say “for all bodies,” what we mean is “for all people.” We want to welcome your body back into conversation with your whole self instead of treating it like a separate entity to be gazed upon or scrutinized.

We want to feel whole. We want to feel seen . We want to see ourselves as the very idea(l) of beauty (because how could we not be in our infinite uniqueness?). And we want you to feel and see all of those things, too.

The path to body positivity is harder for some. Enter body neutrality. It is a growing movement of influence that asks us to prioritize our body’s function and what it can do over its appearance. Maybe loving your body is more complicated work, a longer path—especially for bodies that experience chronic pain and illness (a growing number in our late-pandemic world). The body neutrality movement embraces a lifelong practice that changes with you, your age, and your changing body. We can get behind this, especially within an industry that eschews change and touts a time-capsule approach to aging and maturing skin.

A Black woman with an afro lovingly applies balm to the nose of a taller Black woman with braids

Since when was “old” a bad word?

As someone who lost their mother as a child and is now a parent, I am grateful every day to age. I see the wrinkles on one side of my face where I slept beside my child, my tired face pressed into a pillow. I see the faint smile lines etched into my skin. Body neutrality embraces change. A neutral approach says, “Hey body, I see you here, let’s live.” –Tara Pelletier, Co-Founder

You will not find traces of the gender binary in our marketing. There are no scents for men or women. All of the scents are for non-binary folks (😉 just kidding, scents have no gender, smell like grapefruit if you want to!). You will not find people of one race or ethnicity or body type. We feature many bodies, identities, abilities, and people. Also, cats.

As a small brand with limited resources, we are still working on gathering enough visual representation to show this spectrum of realness. We don’t have the funds for complex scouting efforts and elaborate photoshoots, but that doesn’t stop us from being intentional with our representation. Once you become aware of the industry's homogeneity, it is not that difficult to do things differently—humans are infinitely varied and beautiful.

We want you to feel a hug of vibrant acceptance when you interact with us as if you’ve just entered a sanctuary.

Two Black people stand arm to arm with green bottles held between them by tension

A Lexicon for De-Shaming

The beauty industry traffics in the idea of the outward gaze. That there is someone (or many someones) looking at you, judging you. It says that to be worthy of being beheld (and held), we must look a certain way.

This gaze appears in photographs but is also coded into language. Some of the words we encounter in our daily lives reflect social perceptions so deep they have become commonplace. We don’t even think to question them. Words like “fat” or “aging” are bad. Words like “thin” or “young” are good. Why?

How can we untangle ourselves from this web of shame? Our lexicon is one gesture toward changing the way we think about and talk about our bodies.

This is our internal brand guide that we are making public:

Language + Representation Guidelines


Blog written By Vera Kachouh


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