AP PHOTO: Italy’s ‘imperfect’ models redefine beauty

ROME — A project on Instagram to highlight ordinary women and their flaws has turned into a modeling agency that aims to redefine notions of beauty in Italy.

The modeling agency Imperfetta (Imperfect), started by Carlotta Giiancane in 2020, has a casting book full of models that exceed the industry’s pre-established beauty standards. They are of all sizes and ages, spanning the gender spectrum, some with disabilities or medical conditions such as alopecia or vitiligo, visible scarring or missing limbs.

Such agencies exist elsewhere in Europe and the United States. This is the first one in Italy.

Sonia Spartá is one of the models. A 28-year-old woman from Sicily, she has heard adults whispering to children that she was from the circus when they saw the dark spots on her face and body, the result of a type of hyperpigmentation. Although she once tried to hide her condition, she now realizes its beauty.

“I changed things so that my weakness, or the way I felt weakness, was a source of strength, my specialty,” she said.

During a recent photo shoot in Rome, models of all shapes are located in underwear, wrapped in sheer organza.

“I feel like a revolutionary because I realize that all this did not exist around me before L’Imperfetta,” said Gicanane. “It feels like a revolution, a battle to fight hard, because there are so many difficulties.”

The agency counts more than 140 models. They are in Italy and abroad, but he is focusing her work in Italy “because this is where we want to change things,” said Giancane. Her models appear in advertising campaigns for cosmetic brands, retailers fashion and supermarkets. The work is in online ads, but there were also calls for models in television advertising. Two have appeared on the Milan fashion runway for designer Marco Rambaldi.

Lucia Della Ratta, a university student in Rome, hid her albinism for most of her life, dying her light hair in darker colors and using tanning lotions on her skin. Under pandemic lockdown, she let her natural hair color grow out and started posting photos on Instagram.

“I felt beautiful for the first time,” said Della Ratta, during a break in photography. The move still brings tears to her eyes, which she brushes away. “I felt it was my heart, because it is me, as I really am.”

Desireé D’Angelo has had alopecia since she was 10 years old. At school she wore a hat to hide her baldness, but classmates would bully her. At the age of 15, a dance teacher urged her to accept her condition and stop hiding it.

Since then, she has become a successful dancer, performer and model.

“I like my body, I like my peculiarity. In the end, I accepted it,” she said.

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