Yesterday, Feb. 13, I spoke with Alexis Wolfer, founder and editor-in-chief of TheBeautyBean.com, an online magazine created in 2010 with the specific purpose of providing beauty, fashion, health, and wellness content in a way that made women feel better about themselves. This is in contrast to high fashion magazines that actively seek to take advantage of women's insecurities in order to profit from them.
Alexis Wolfer comes to tackle this societal problem through a lens crafted by a Master's Degree in Women and Gender studies from Columbia University, an interest in fashion and natural beauty, and her own struggles with body image. From her personal experience and her thesis that focused on how women's magazines focused on creating unrealistic ideals that foist pressure on young girls and women, Alexis realized something had to change.
She created The Beauty Bean four years ago as a partial answer to the dilemma and to fill a void where women could seek beauty, health, and wellness content in a positive and body-friendly environment. Conventional magazines often hide behind the excuse that 'this is what sells,' referring to the thin and unrealistic ideals. However, upon closer examination, Alexis found that women were actually hungry for a less conventional magazine, like The Beauty Bean. Six months after the launch of the magazine, Alexis created a twitter contest to solicit feedback regarding its content, and was astounded to find that 85 percent of the responses were that 'it didn't make the women feel bad about themselves.' Not only was Alexis providing positive content, but her readers understood and valued the mission behind the content.
If women truly want and appreciate a different type of beauty magazine, then magazines should have a corporate responsibility to respond to the need without shaming women. Alexis embodies this corporate responsibility in her mission to 'give women empowered beauty content.' None of the pictures in The Beauty Bean are retouched or airbrushed and all the fitness and nutrition advice focuses on health and wellness rather than weight loss or body shame.
Alexis also took this mission one step further, creating 'Makeup Free Mondays,' to encourage women to appreciate and celebrate their own inner beauty. Although she appreciates that makeup is fun and glamorous, Alexis feels that it should not feel like an obligation or define your self-worth. After hearing many women say they needed to 'put their face on,' she decided it was a worthwhile area to pursue. And it was. Many other organizations have joined in the Makeup Free Monday experience, helping to put the focus back on inner beauty and liberate women from the heavy constraints of social norms.
An exciting new project on the horizon is Alexis' book, The Recipe for Radiance, which is due to be released on April 22. The Recipe for Radiance is just that, a book to address different beauty concerns and providing food-based DIY recipes for fixing them, with the underlying mission of celebrating and enhancing inner beauty. With 131 easy, all-natural, affordable, and effective recipes, this book is sure to be a favorite and offers a unique contrast to fad books that focus solely on beauty rather than health.
From one idea has come a fount of information, positive messages, and a movement for social change. It may seem like Don Quixote tilting against windmills with the overwhelming number of beauty and fashion magazines and media promoting negative body image and shaming tactics, but Alexis' magazine, book, and blog are challenging the status quo and empowering women to reclaim control of their natural beauty, bodies, and health.