Acid attack survivor launches social media campaign to celebrate beauty diversity

‘As a community we must update our perspective by celebrating all beauty in the media’

Olivia Petter@oliviapetter1
Thursday 16 August 2018 10:47

In a sea of cropped, edited and perfectly-filtered images, social media is constantly under scrutiny for setting unrealistic beauty standards and exacerbating feelings of low self-esteem.

Now, one woman is trying to change that by promoting beauty diversity via a hashtag that has already gone viral on Instagram.

Katie Gee was left with 35 per cent burns across her body after surviving an acid attack in Zanzibar in 2013, where she had been volunteering at a school.

She has since undergone more than 60 operations to restore her health, including an eyebrow transplant and ear reconstruction.

The 23-year-old, who graduated from Nottingham University last year with a degree in sociology, decided to launch #SettingTheStandard on Monday, after a publication she had written a personal article for described her as “horribly disfigured”.

Speaking to The Independent, Gee explains how she originally intended for the hashtag to circulate amongst her friends, however, it swiftly garnered traction, with more than 23,900 posts on Instagram from people sharing their perceived 'flaws'.

"I think it's great that so many people have joined in," she says, "but I hope it continues to spread and reach as many people as possible. It's exciting every time I get tagged in new posts."

Gee added that she hopes the images shared under the hashtag will alleviate the pressures imposed by social media to look a certain way.


"Everyone has insecurities," she says, "it's worrying how many people have something to post about because of societal pressures.

"With the hashtag, people with any insecurity can flaunt it and own it - the more people do this, the more normalised anything they consider a "flaw" will become."

With regards to her own personal journey to acceptance following the attack, Gee explains that it's an ongoing process and admits she still finds it difficult.

"I've got to the point now where I'll never be ashamed or embarrassed that I have scars from the attack, but I'm only human and sometimes will have days where I feel insecure too.

"Seeing people get involved in something like this does make it easier - everyone becomes relatable; it's a reminder that we shouldn't believe everything we see on social media.

"It definitely makes it easier for me."

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