Armine is a fashion model for Gucci.
Who Is Armine Harutyunyan And How Did She Become A Victim of Body-Shaming In Italy?
Rebecca Ann Hughes Sep 5, 2020
Model Armine Harutyunyan’s “unconventional” appearance sparked a nation-wide debate in Italy last weekend about beauty standards, modelling and body-shaming. Despite the model having appeared several times now on Gucci catwalks, it seems her inclusion in a list, since revealed to be non-existent, of the 100 sexiest models in the world drawn up by Gucci was the catalyst for the sudden spotlight on Harutyunyan.
Harutyunyan is a 23-year-old Armenian model and a familiar face at Gucci shows led by Alessandro Michele. However, over the weekend there was an explosion of criticism in Italian media and on social media channels about her “unusual” looks. She became the target of negative and hateful comments insulting her appearance and questioning her validity as a model.
Harutyunyan’s features are angular, with a long nose, thick eyebrows and deep, dark eyes. That she does not fit the “normal” canon of model beauty is an intentional choice by Michele, who has been favoring underappreciated forms of beauty in his shows for several years now.
Jonathan Bazzi, an Italian author, took to Instagram in an attempt to explain this evolution of beauty standards in the industry. He writes, “models today very often aren’t ‘beautiful’, the fashion world has a language which is not that of 20, 30 years ago. Characters and faces are chosen on the basis of their meaning and the atmosphere desired by the creative director, they are no longer the embodiment of the audience’s erotic fantasies.”
However, the tenor of the jokes, insults and hate spewed on social media aimed at Harutyunyan makes it clear the comments did not exclusively derive from a misunderstanding of the fashion industry’s changing beauty tastes. Harutyunyan became a victim of body-shaming because her features are not those which social media has forced society to place above all others. Social networks like Instagram have cultivated a particularly narrow remit of beauty standards that leave little room for diversity.
In response to the storm of negativity, Harutyunyan spoke to national paper La Repubblica about body positivity and diversity. “People are scared by everything that is different,” she commented, but for her, “there are many different ways of being beautiful.” Harutyunyan remarked that this is not the first time she has received negative comments about her appearance and while it hurts, she is determined to ignore them. “It is better to be different than conform to others, even if this is not understood by everyone,” she said. “My advice is to concentrate on yourself, on who you are and what you really love.”
Even those who, priding themselves on their “open-mindedness”, praised Harutyunyan as an “unconventional” beauty are part of the problem. To label Harutyunyan as an exception is to reinforce the established, restrictive beauty standards. It may be that the fashion industry is forging the way for a new, inclusive, diverse understanding of beauty (whether for commercial reasons or not) but Italy is not ready for it yet.
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