Armine Harutyunyan and the "fear" of unconventional beauty

The case of the Gucci model victim of body shaming caused a sensation. But why being a “different” women is still scary in Italy?

By Francesca Parravicini

How many times we used to talk as teenagers (or hear about it, it depends on your degree of sociability. Mine was very low) about our physical appearance with friends or schoolmates, comparing our flaws, often in an absolutely merciless and unfair way? Another situation, which often happened, was to talk about actresses/singers/models and highlight their unconventional beauty, not to praise it, but essentially asking "why is she considered beautiful?”

Unfortunately none of us have been immune from harmful stereotypes but in recent years a new concept of beauty has taken hold, tailored to each girl, with body positivity movements and the exaltation of different canons and physical flaws, which in reality we should not consider flaws, but simply characteristics that all human beings have, because we are indeed human and not walking Instagram posts. Beauty has become something individual.

Yet, especially in our country, there are still cases that make people talk, like the one of Armine Harutyunyan.

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Un post condiviso da Armina 🇦🇲 (@deararmine) in data:

Armine Harutyunyan is 23, she is originally from Yerevan, Armenia and is a Graphic Design student at the Yerevan State Institute of Fine Arts and Theater. Her distinctive feature is an angular beauty, with an intense face framed by thick eyebrows. A face that got noticed by a talent scout in Berlin, who sent her to an audition at Gucci, catapulting Armine into the world of fashion and its catwalks. Armine fits perfectly into the aesthetic research of the creative director Alessandro Michele, who prefers diverse faces and characters (for example the Gucci Beauty campaign starring Elli Goldstein, a model with Down Syndrome) and she has been included by the brand in a list of the 100 most beautiful women in the world. And that's where, the terrible scandal broke out.

In the last days on Italian social networks there was a real uproar of posts, comments, articles, in which a crowd of strangers have risen as defenders of true beauty, against poor Armine, who has done nothing wrong: there are those who consider her ugly in a general sense, not very suitable for the world of fashion and some even created memes, in which they ask (how funny) "would you go out to dinner with a woman like her?". A shower of hatred so strong that an ironic photo posted on her Instagram profile was exploited by the haters, spreading the news that the funny greeting to the sun in the photo was a roman salute.

Now, there are many reflections we can make. First, the conception of beauty in the fashion world, which can be different from what is considered conventional beauty: it is often mistakenly believed that a girl must be simply beautiful in a "classic" way to be a model, when instead, often and willingly fashion (with all its lights and shadows) prefers to tell a story, which needs interesting faces, at the service of a story and of a set of values, often unconventional.

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It was very exciting to open the show ♥️ thanks @daloodtbilisi ✨

Un post condiviso da Armina 🇦🇲 (@deararmine) in data:

Then there is the problem of beauty and in particular of beauty in Italy. As we said, in recent years we've seen the rise of the body positivity and the exaltation of a more unconventional beauty. These ideas are prevalent among the girls of our generation and the new one, but they are common in the general media and within the common consciousness. This is linked to the fact that in Italy feminism is still struggling to take root: in the popular conception feminists are often still portrayed as crazy people who hate men (equality who?) and obviously "ugly". There is still a idea of a woman created from years and years of stereotyped representations, a woman who can be intelligent, capable, dynamic, but all of this does not matter if she is not beautiful, obviously in a conventional, Eurocentric, heteronormative and above all passive way. If a woman dares to take her imperfect beauty and exhibit it, the anger explodes. Even worse if this woman is a foreigner and is the expression of a culture that is perceived as distant.

The anger towards Armine Harutyunyan is anger towards aesthetic free will, the ability to reshape the canons, to love our bodies despite everything (when we're always told that we have to change), the ability of women to be themselves despite everything. And even if it seems like an difficul journey, we are happy that this revolution has begun. Hurrah for Armine then!

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Un post condiviso da Armina 🇦🇲 (@deararmine) in data: