Huda Kattan Calls for Change in the Beauty Industry: Stop Asking for Permission to Feel Empowered

Take a scroll through Huda Kattan’s Instagram page, press play on one of her Youtube videos or just glance at her brand’s website and it becomes instantly clear that the influencer-turned-beauty boss is as real as it gets. While she can contour the sh-t out of her nose, she’s also the first to admit that she’s had work done. She’ll edit her photos here and there, sure, but you better believe the 37-year-old mogul is telling her fans when she uses Facetune. 

And after a year of self-reflection, breakthroughs and a life-changing makeup-free campaign for her new skincare brand Wishful, Kattan is calling on all beauty brands to stop perpetuating toxic beauty standards and for consumers to work towards self-empowerment. To get her message across, Kattan is posting a video on the topic to her Youtube page on Saturday, March 6, and Us got the first look!

“Why can’t we just normalize normal things? There’s this pressure from these big beauty companies that are not allowing us to be ourselves. They keep telling us, ‘No, you can’t be yourself. You have to be something else.’ I’m just sick of it,” Kattan tells Us Weekly’s Stylish in an exclusive interview. She admits that there are a few brands being open and honest in the industry, but others are promoting a false beauty standard by selling skincare via models wearing makeup or campaigns with photoshopped faces. 

Kattan became intimately familiar with the industry’s flaws when creating her new skincare line, Wishful, which launched in February 2020. After noticing the “smoke and mirrors” used in campaigns, she decided to take a different approach with her line. That meant no makeup, real people — not models — and no Photoshop. 

Huda Kattan Wants Us to Stop Asking for Permission to Feel Empowered
Courtesy of Huda Kattan/Instagram

But standing in front of a camera bearing all can be challenging. “Our Wishful campaign was a really emotional one for me. I know I have self-worth issues and there I was facing them. I had to have a conversation with myself, like, ‘Look at that girl, she is good enough. You said you wanted to do this photo shoot without makeup, without Photoshop, so be in that moment and accept it.’ And there was a moment where I really shifted. I’m going to cry, thinking about it,” Kattan tells Stylish. “The Photoshop and the makeup is like your armor sometimes.”

When stripped of that “armor,” Kattan says that her whole outlook on beauty pivoted. “For the longest time, I was covering myself up with makeup because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m not this perfect beauty standard.’ And through a lot of therapy and life coaching, I’ve come to understand that makeup is just this tool. Makeup is not the full of who you are, it’s just an addition to and an expression of who you are.”

The Huda Beauty founder says that the mental shift from using makeup to fit societal standards to “glamming because I want to, not because I have to” happened once she stopped seeking acceptance from the world around her. “People almost feel like they need permission to feel empowered. We say it, ‘We want to feel empowered, we want to feel all these things.’ But that permission aspect is there,” Kattan says. “You need to accept yourself and you need to know how amazing you are. Everybody around you does not define you.” 

To help catalyze change in the beauty industry, Kattan is pledging to run both her professional and personal accounts with honesty at the forefront. “I’m the influencer as well as a brand. And if I don’t start being honest, then I’m part of a problem,” she tells Us. “I may still use Photoshop and Facetune, but we just have to be honest about it. We’ve got to set a fair playing field and tell people what you’re actually doing.” 

She adds: “There’s been so many amazing shifts in 2020 where we, as a community, we’re able to demand so many things from equality to recognition. And if we don’t come together here [the beauty industry] in the same way, we’re not going to be able to make the change.”

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