October 31, 2022
How Disabled Creators Spread Awareness on TikTok

The rise in candy from around the world reflects people's growing adventurous palates and the role of social media in introducing new foods globally.

History has significantly influenced what various cultures consider beautiful. Major economic and political events, along with shifts in the cultural zeitgeist, have all played a crucial part in shaping ideal beauty standards.

For instance, colonialism radically shifted beauty ideals in many Asian and African countries. Features that didn’t fit with Eurocentric beauty ideals, like deeper skin tones, smaller eye shapes and textured hair, were deemed undesirable, introducing a social hierarchy that is still being unraveled today.

In modern society, the rise of the Internet and social media has been a transformative force in shaping beauty standards. Asian beauty techniques and products have spread to the West and entered the mainstream, while Western influencer and celebrity culture has permeated globally. The conversation around beauty has become increasingly diverse and inclusive, celebrating a wider range of features and styles.

These evolving perspectives on beauty have led to the emergence of new practices, which are prominently reflected in modern advertising. Using our AI-powered Ad Evaluation App, we analyzed beauty advertisements from the 1990s and 2000s by the same brands across five different markets - the US, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. Our goal was to observe their transformation over time and identify any movements between these markets.


Previous Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate

New Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate, Inspiration, Glamorous

Brazil boasts one of the world’s most diverse cultures, but its beauty standards haven't always reflected that. L’Oreal’s earlier ads featured a light-skinned American model, which is not representative of the country's diversity. While the preferences for glamour and sensuality have remained central, modern ads now showcase a nuanced version of beauty, highlighting different ethnicities and genders. This bolder approach contrasts with the seemingly self-effacing ad of the past, redefining and embracing what beauty looks like in Brazil.


Previous Archetypes and Values: Supportive, Down-to-Earth

New Archetypes and Values:  Strong, Brave, Determined

Estee Lauder's 2002 ad in China features Caucasian model Hilary Rhoda as the ambassador, dubbed in Mandarin. This ad may have been a reflection of the period's idealization of foreign beauty and a lack of strong Chinese identity in the beauty industry at the time. More than two decades later, the 2024 ad we analyzed showcases Zhang Weili, a professional MMA fighter, training in a boxing ring. This shift indicates a move away from the consumption of imported beauty standards towards the creation of a homegrown ideal. The new standard of beauty emphasizes strength and health, qualities that Chinese consumers admire and aspire to, and see in themselves.


Previous Archetypes and Values:  Powerful, Charismatic, Visionary

New Archetype and Values: Playful, Carefree, Fun-Loving, Glamorous

The two L’Oreal India advertisements featuring long-time brand ambassador Aishwarya Rai illustrate a shift in marketing strategy over the last decade. In the earlier ad, Aishwarya embodies the quintessential beautiful Indian woman, dressed-up and perfectly coiffed. This portrayal emphasizes an idealized and somewhat unattainable standard of beauty.The updated ad presents a more casual and relatable image of the actress, which suggests an attitudinal shift among Indian consumers. While she remains glamorous, the ad focuses on portraying her in a more accessible light, thus positioning her as someone who wants to help other women feel beautiful too.


Previous Archetypes and Values: Innocent, Humble, Optimistic

New Archetypes and Values: Warm, Compassionate, Generous, Nurturing, Inspirational

Shiseido's ads reflect the evolving reality of Japanese women over the past 30 years. The 1992 ad depicts a woman at home, where women typically spent most of their time. The modern ad, however, shows Japanese celebrity Hiromi Nagasaku in various aspects of her life—at work and with her family—showcasing the joy she feels. She appears more confident and assertive, reflecting contemporary Japanese views on beauty. In the past, beauty was associated with cleanliness, but now it encompasses a woman living her life fully and enjoying every moment, illustrating that beauty comes from within rather than just external appearances.


Previous Archetypes and Values: Expressive, Imaginative, Sensuality

New Archetypes and Values:  Playful, Fun-loving, Glamorous, Entertaining

Both Maybelline ads share a similar concept, creating a fantasy world that doesn't take itself too seriously. Beauty is meant to be fun, and the 2023 version feels like a modern update of the earlier ad's playful message. The latest ad features the unexpected pairing of Bretman Rock and Martha Stewart, and utilizes both their brand personas. This shift showcases a growing consumer desire for inclusivity and authenticity in advertising, challenging traditional notions of beauty and expanding the idea of who gets to wear makeup.

Our analysis of ads from these five markets reveals three key ways ideas have traveled, highlighting the shift from one-dimensional to multidimensional beauty. The meaning of this shift varies across cultures.

Many modern ads demonstrate a shift in the relationship and power dynamics between beauty brands and consumers. In the past, the beauty industry focused on highlighting imperfections and promoting unattainable standards that could only be achieved through their products. Today, consumers are more empowered and seek brands that affirm their beauty and support them in their journey to become the best version of themselves.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA. Brazil, Japan.

Modern beauty ads seem to share a common thread: beauty is about play and passion. It’s meant to be fun and accessible to everyone who wants to take part in it. It's believed that happiness and fulfillment in life radiate outwardly. When you feel content and satisfied, it enhances your external appearance.Brands need to promote the idea that their products are a means to explore, have fun, and express joy, reinforcing where true beauty comes from.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan, India.

Seeing yourself on screen is more important than ever before. Consumers are demanding to see people who not only look like them but also reflect the unique interpretations of beauty in their respective countries. They want to see individuals who mirror their ideals and lifestyles and with whom they can emotionally connect.

The expectation is for brands to understand them on a far deeper level and cater to their beauty standards, rather than setting the standards for them.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan.

Candy remains a favorite in ASMR eating videos due to its visual appeal and sound when chewed. Recently, popular candies with crunchy and sludgy sounds have become especially soothing.

Consumers' tastes now favor sharper, tangier flavors. Sour candy offers a refreshing contrast to sweetness and stimulates dopamine release. It is also believed to be a quick antidote for anxiety, as it distracts the brain from negative emotions and focuses it on the tingly sensation in the mouth.

Nostalgia has hit the candy market, with 90s and 00s favorites like Ring Pops, Airheads, and Nerds topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list, indicating consumers’ craving for childhood snacks.

Write to [email protected] to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest consumer trends.

As beauty standards become more inclusive and diverse, it is clear that consumers are driving a transformative shift in media and advertising, seeking representations that are authentic, empowering, and reflective of their true selves.

If you are interested to learn more, sign upfor our product newsletter or reach out to us at [email protected].

We’re launching an updated version of our ad evaluation tool that can analyse any creative formats, from concepts to storyboard, at our September event. Learn more about AI-volution 2024 here.

Brand Insights in 3 Sentences: Disabled creators make popular and resonant content that pushes back against ableism, informs about the reality of living with a disability, and advocates for change in noninclusive spaces and businesses. There is an enormous diversity in approach between style, subject, and tone in these videos, reflecting the diversity in the disabled community and indicating a need for many forms of activism and awareness. Brands can make their social media presence accessible to hearing and vision impaired people with closed captions and audio descriptions — alongside a focus on accessibility in physical spaces — to demonstrate their commitment to disability allyship.

In some ways, the internet is a great equalizer. It allows people of different ages, creeds, and cultural backgrounds to participate. Many oppressed and underrepresented groups have had their voices heard in ways never before possible because of social media. For people that can’t have access to in-person spaces readily and safely, social media has become an essential piece of infrastructure.

That said, the internet is still not accessible to all. For example, social media continues to exclude hearing and vision impaired people. While strides have been made through screen-readers and closed captioning, there are still a number of barriers to access on platforms that are highly visual and auditory.

For a long time, TikTok was one of the worst offenders. The short-form video platform didn’t require or even suggest that its users include captions. As Tiktok’s popularity soared, this left thousands of deaf and hearing-impaired people unable to access some of the most current and relevant media of 2020 and 2021.

However, in a unique turn of events, many users took matters into their own hands.

Younger generations, especially Gen-Z, began manually captioning their videos. This trend became so common that it still persists today, even after TikTok finally added auto-captioning and text-to-speech functionalities to its platform.

This organized effort to make TikTok more accessible is evidence of a larger trend among internet users. In short, people want to learn more about disability, accessibility, and allyship:

This increase in disability awareness is owed in large part to the disabled activists that have taken to social media to educate and inform the public. While social media continues to struggle with its accessibility issues, it has also become an important platform for disability awareness and activism.

That’s why we at Quilt decided to use Sphere, our AI platform, to highlight some of TikTok’s disabled creators and activists, while examining the messages they promote through their content.

Here’s what we found:

Keeping it Real

TikTok is a very personal platform. Its videos are often face-to-face, confessional, and vulnerable. There are several enormously popular trends that capitalize on sharing everyday experiences, like “Get Ready With Me” (#grwm) and “a Day in my Life”.

This focus on truthful and personal content extends to disability activists. Many of the videos we examined were insights into the daily lives of the users who posted them. We used Sphere’s Everyday Experience analysis to identify what themes were most prevalent in these videos:

Simply put, many of the creators we examined keep it real with their audiences. Their content shows where they are, what they deal with on a daily basis, and all without embellishment or sugarcoating. It’s a very effective style of awareness-building and education that neither sensationalizes nor romanticizes disabled experiences.

Claire Sisk (canseecantsee), a blind woman from the United Kingdom, devotes nearly half of her content to this theme. Sometimes, this comes in the form of little insights into her life — generally, explanations of how she goes about certain daily activities with her disability.


synthesizing vast data into actionable insights that reflect each market's unique cultural and economic backdrop


grasping the distinct consumer perspectives that these diverse regions offer

Curated digital profiles:

-Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (US)

-Weibo and Douyin (China)

Pulled 400 million unique searches to estimate the growth of each segment

Used Quilt.AI’s Sphere language and image capabilities to categorise lifestyle areas into specific segments

Glamour Seekers

These consumers are confident, bold, and comfortable with modern masculinity. They also often turn to social media to express their personal style and interests.

Actionable Insight: Collaborate with high-profile fashion influencers to create vibrant, trend-setting campaigns that resonate with this segment's desire for attention and admiration.

Vanity Vanguards

Highly image-driven, these individuals often seek validation through their appearance and are likely to engage heavily with both grooming and fashion products.

Actionable Insight:Leverage digital marketing strategies that feature before-and-after visuals and testimonials that showcase the transformative power of the products

Conscious Icons

These men aim to be recognized as modern, open-minded, and sensitive – embodying the image of "the woke good guy" in today's society by actively participating in movements related to activism and gender equality.

Actionable Insight:Design marketing campaigns that highlight their participation in these movements, showcasing products that enable them to express and amplify their desired social identities.

Youthful Trendsetters

They value beauty while still maintaining traditional masculine ideals of what it means to be good-looking. These men also tend to seek out methods of maintaining their youthful appearances.

Actionable Insight:Market products that boost physical appeal and suit active lifestyles, and focus on dynamic marketing that highlights masculine elegance.

Trusted Patrons

Despite seeing gender in traditionally binary terms, these men aren’t afraid of behaving in more feminine manners. They own their uniqueness and tend to be deeply loyal to brands that affirm their identity.

Actionable Insight:Focusing on brand narratives that celebrate individuality and personal expression will better engage this segment. Brands can also offer personalized services to maintain their commitment.

Innovation Advocates

As consumers who value knowledge, they embrace technology and innovation that enhances their lives. Wanting to stay ahead of the curve, they prefer brands that offer cutting-edge solutions that reflect their own mentality.

Actionable Insight:Market products to this segment by emphasizing innovation, utility, and exclusivity. Brands can focus on how their products integrate the latest technology and engage these men through intelligent content that speaks to their curiosity.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.

Other times, she gets real about some of the more difficult elements of living with disability. Even then, she tends to maintain a lighthearted spin on her experience:

Claire is one of many disabled creators who “keep it real” with their content. However, it’s not a concept limited to positivity. Many creators are unafraid to share a more impassioned message about the reality of their daily lives.

Advocating for Change

TikTok’s disabled community is an incredibly accepting, welcoming space. So it is surprising that Sphere’s sentiment analytics found a significant negative element in the posts of some creators:

However, these negative sentiments have nothing to do with disability, and everything to do with accessibility and discrimination. They are justified criticisms for a world that needs to make living for disabled people safer, more reliable, and more welcoming. Many of the creators we examined use their platform to decry the more egregious failings that society has performed against disabled individuals.

Naturally, creators choose to devote differing amounts of their content to this kind of activism and education. Some users choose to simply focus on the positive and informative elements of their experience. Others are unafraid to delve into the unfair perception they receive from society and the ways the world around them has been made inaccessible.

These are the sentiment breakdowns of three different profiles, reflecting the wide range of perspectives disabled creators bring to TikTok:

Sarah Todd Hammer — a disability advocate, published author, dancer, model, and speaker — is one TikTok user whose page reflects different kinds of disability activism and awareness. She calls out ableism and prejudice:

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
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