For Tweens and Teens, Imperfect is the New Perfect

In Analysis by Michael Rae

One need look no further than a before and after picture of the Kardashian family to understand that beauty can, in fact, be bought. For teens and tweens with their “anyone can be famous” mentality, beauty and notoriety appear to be the ultimate goal. However, we are seeing a lash back from Gen Z and younger Millennials, who are leading a swing back of the pendulum to a new world where imperfection is the new perfect.

And this should not be surprising, as there have been an unprecedented number of teen suicides of late. These are teens, many of whom are buckling under the immense pressure from their helicopter parents to achieve at very high levels in every way, be it sports, school or even popularity.

While the CDC and other government institutions and non-profits are focused on youth obesity, they have been slow to recognize one of the most important underlying causes of this health crisis. That being, crushing stress, and the lack of tools and strategies kids have to deal with it. In fact, tweens say it is the third biggest issue they face, and by the time they get to high school, it becomes number one.

Instead of being victims, this generation of kids 6-17, who believe that all it takes is one kid to make a difference, feel empowered to make the changes they see necessary to reduce chronic stress in their lives. This can be seen in how Snapchat is being used by tweens and teens, which flies directly in the face of all the “filters” and beautification apps available to kids.

While the prevailing trend has been to show your best (and optimized) self, Snapchat is all about capturing a moment in time, where many kids will purposefully blink when taking the photo so that the picture is, itself, flawed.  This can also be seen on Finsta, or “Fake Insta” which, in addition to having an Instagram account, kids make a separate account to showcase “bad” pictures of themselves, all in the service of getting a laugh, or showing others that they don’t take themselves so seriously.
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Without consciously realizing it, companies have just started tapping into this trend towards celebrating the diversity of beauty in ads, product development, experiences and retail environments.

BabyGap and GapKids have been showcasing babies and children in their advertising with gapped teeth, freckles and frizzy hair. Barbie recently released versions of the doll that are curvy, petite and tall.   And packaged goods are recognizing this trend away from factory-produced, manufactured perfection, by introducing products like Uno’s frozen pizza with asymmetrical crust, in order to make it seem more artisanal.  ASDA supermarket in the UK sells a “wonky veg box” which features “ugly fruit” or fruit with imperfections, which otherwise would have been tossed. By searching YouTube you can also find loads of ugly makeup tutorials, if one is so inclined.

This evidence of trumpeting imperfections is just beginning and there is much more to come.   For more information on this trend, and others in the Millennials, Kids and Family space, and to better understand how it can manifest in your category, products or services, please reach out to me via my contact information below.