Charli Howard Wants You to Flaunt Your Natural Beauty
To be familiar with the Good Squad is to know and love our OG member, Charli Howard. The London-native model has long been an advocate for feeling your absolute best, and she pushes against any conventional beauty standard deemed as unrealistic. Charli's 2018 memoir, Misfit, chronicles her professional and personal journey with anxiety and eating disorders. It is a raw, honest retelling of the pressures of an industry that puts up a glossy front. Charli flipped the script and took her health and happiness into her own hands, ultimately growing into a woman who is comfortable and happier than ever in her own skin.
The added cherry on top? She debuted her beauty brand, Squish, last year. Chock-full of tasty visuals and delectable products, the brand celebrates the natural beauty of all women–a mission we can strongly get behind!
Let's talk about your brand, Squish Beauty. The idea for it sparked from your hunt for an eye mask that de-puffed more areas on your face than just under the eye. Had you ever thought of starting your own brand prior to this? What was it about this particular beauty problem that spoke to you?
I've always wanted to own my own business in some capacity and I'm constantly inspired by the boss women I meet or read about (like Khloé and Emma, for example!). In regards to the masks, I am obsessed with lymphatic drainage and understanding the parts of the body that retain water or become puffy, and just couldn't find a mask that de-puffed the cheeks (which is where I get a lot of water retention). After a bit of sketching on a Post-It note and working out where those key areas are, I came up with a cherry shape!
Everyone always has daydreams of starting their brands/companies, but few follow through. What kept you motivated throughout the entire process, from ideation to launch?
I never thought I'd have the funds or the time to start a beauty brand (everyone knows that beauty is one of the most costly things you can do), but somehow, I've made it work and happen. I think I just believed in what I was producing without wanting to sacrifice on quality, and my business partner, Ben, is also there during times of anxiety or worry. There was never a time I thought "this won't work" - it was always, "I HAVE to make this work". It's still in early stages, so perhaps I'm tempting fate, but I genuinely believe that Squish is cute and fun, and luckily other people seem too, as well.
Your branding is pure eye candy! So delicious. What sparks the creative direction for Squish?
Oh gosh, so many things! My two main inspirations are '70s soft pornos (hence those hazy looking pictures!) and '90s teen magazines. I was obsessed with those as a kid and teenager! I think women all love a bit of cute and this takes them back to their childhood - the models look like the cool, older girls they wanted to be when they were 7.
We love that you practice a no-retouch belief with your models and imagery! What does it mean to you to provide an inclusive platform for women that promotes their natural beauty?
I just think we owe it to young women to be transparent and open and to show them that you don't need airbrushing to look beautiful. I don't think EVERY brand needs a 'no retouching' policy; it just worked for us. Not many beauty brands do that and we wanted to show that things like acne, scars, and cellulite aren't hideous or ugly.
Along with owning a beauty brand and being an author, you’re also a model. Can you tell us about your career journey with modeling, and the experiences that helped you to become the woman you are today?
I've been modeling properly since I was 21 - as a teenager, it was all I dreamt about becoming. I wanted to do it more than anything but was constantly rejected for being "too big" or too curvy (bearing in mind I was no bigger than a US size 4). Then I moved to New York and discovered plus-size modeling, and while I'm definitely NOT plus-size, I definitely started owning my body and my curves and doing my own thing. I still think there's a big gap in the market for girls sized US 6-8 that aren't featured in magazines and so I want to help be that representative.
You’re a significant part of a much-needed shift in beauty standards in the world today. From an insider’s perspective, do you see the modeling world shifting their outlooks on what women should look like?
I do and I think social media has had a big role to play in that. It's now cool to be different and cool to have a voice. Even less than 10 years ago, you weren't encouraged to have a voice as a model. You had to stay silent and look pretty or fit into somebody else's ideas of what beauty is. The truth is, people can be beautiful in so many ways, like by being an activist or not being a size 0. I just hope this trend is here to stay!!
Tell us about your own circle of women! What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood, to me, is about supporting one another and not attacking each other. The media loves to pit women against each other and we don't need to succumb to that. Let's support each other through our struggles and achievements and be kind!
When you do you feel you're most beautiful?
When I'm naked and dancing in my flat with my headphones in!! (I don't know if my neighbors across the street feel the same way!)
When do you feel most empowered?
When someone tells me I've helped them or made them feel better about themselves - I love helping women!