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Celebs, Online Influencers Talk Beauty Standards, Politics and Slut-Shaming at Beautycon L.A.

Thousands of beauty enthusiasts, makeup artists, and digital influencers flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center Saturday for Day 1 of the 5th annual Beautycon. According to Jay Manuel, this year’s beauty convention will be the most widely attended in the event’s history.

Messages of unity and body positivity prevailed in both on-site brand activations (Revlon invited attendees to spread positivity on a chalk message board) and panel discussions.

“We’re always trying to redefine beauty — and it’s important to have that conversation — but by redefining it you’re naturally leaving somebody out. We should un-define it, there shouldn’t be restrictions or guidelines to what makes somebody beautiful,” said “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi, who participated in an on-stage, fireside chat. “With what we’re witnessing in the world, like the protests in Charlottesville, there’s a deep-seated need for us to be unified. For us to do that it takes those small things like embracing everyone’s beauty.”

Contributing to that message, industry vet Sir John (most known as Beyoncé’s makeup artist) spoke to evolutions in the beauty industry.

“From Harlem to Hong Kong, everyone’s now unified by one blush, one eyeshadow, one foundation. There’s no difference in cultures anymore like there used to be,” he said. Sir John sat on a panel with model Adriana Lima, his co-star in the upcoming Lifetime competition series “American Beauty Star.” They premiered the show’s trailer to an audience dominated by young, eager Lima fans.

In a NSFW-themed panel, “The Bachelorette’s” JoJo Fletcher and vloggers Tana Mongeau and Shameless Maya talked privacy, politics, and slut-shaming. “The internet is so quick to slut-shame,” said Mongeau. “At the end of the day it’s your body, you should be able to do what you want with it. You shouldn’t shame other women for wanting to show it off. As women we should empower each other to be confident in who we are.”

To no surprise, the biggest crowds were drawn by YouTubers like Mongeau, Patrick StarrrJackie Aina, and Mariale Marrero — each boasting a digital fanbase in the millions. This echoed makeup artist Joyce Bonelli’s (known for beautifying the Kardashian family) claim that “influencers are the new celebrities” in the industry.

Actual celebs like Laverne Cox, Zendaya, and Tracee Ellis Ross also graced the pink carpet. Social shares were a clear driver for most beauty activations, many offering branded backdrops, photo booths, and “share to win” attractions. Day 2 of the festival will commence on Sunday with panelists including Chrissy Teigen, Kelly Rowland, and Gigi Gorgeous.

(Pictured: Tyra Banks at the Variety Portrait Studio at Beautycon Festival Los Angeles)

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