A decado ago, when influencers weren’t, well, as influential as they are now, Huda Kattan fielded the same question over and over: “Everyone would ask me, ‘What do you do? Do you just sit in your room and take photos of yourself and post them online?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.'”
Kattan, who was a makeup artist and blogger at the time, believed that if she shared candid truths about Photoshop and what goes into producing the flawless images plastered across the internet, TV, magazines, and billboards, she could build brand equity. She was right: On Monday night, the Iraqi-American beauty mogul was honored at the TIME100 Impact Awards and Gala at the Museum of the Future in Dubai. Kattan, the founder of Huda Beauty—one of the world’s fastest-growing beauty lines—was among seven global leaders recognized for going above and beyond to move their industries forward.
Kattan launched her eponymous beauty brand in 2013, and shaped it around inclusivity and self-love. In 2021, incensed by unrealistic beauty standards, she launched a petition asking brands to be transparent about the extreme photo editing they use to make models’ skin appear unblemished. She said she felt “a sense of responsibility, as a beauty lover and a brand founder,” to let consumers know what’s real, and what’s not, in the ads they see every day. She vowed not to use retouching in any of her company’s ads.
While introducing Kattan at the TIME100 Impact Awards Monday, supermodel-turned-businesswoman Tyra Banks praised Kattan for “keeping it real.” “I find that to be very brave,” she said, joking that her Instagram feed is full of editing, smoothing, and shining.
Kattan emphasized that there’s still much progress to be made in the beauty industry, which continues to promote unrealistic standards. She called on others to be honest about their own images. “We underestimate how much influence we have as individuals,” she said. “If I leave you with one thing tonight, I would like everyone to remember that all of us can influence change, all of us have the ability to have power and impact, and it’s something that comes with great responsibility.”
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