A countertrend is gaining steam: embracing imperfection as something that’s more unique and authentic—conveying a beauty appeal.

With Millennials and the generation after them focused on achieving a perfectly polished look, mirroring what they see in the media and striving to impress on social media, a countertrend is gaining steam: embracing imperfection as something that’s more unique and authentic—conveying a beauty or sex appeal of its own. As we point out in one of our 10 Trends for 2014, Proudly Imperfect, 76 percent of Millennials we surveyed last November said they find beauty in people’s flaws, and 85 percent believe people’s flaws make them seem more authentic.

Dove, a forerunner here with its decade-old “Campaign for Real Beauty,” most recently created a short film, “Selfie,” that paints a picture of how today’s meticulously edited self-portraits can potentially harm self-esteem. Through a photo project with mothers and daughters, the film explores how selfies can instead be used to redefine beauty standards for women of all ages. Meanwhile, lingerie retailer Aerie, an American Eagle brand that targets the 15-21 age bracket, has received tremendous praise for its spring 2014 campaign, “Aerie Real.” Copy promises, “No more retouching our girls and no more supermodels” and uses the tagline, “The real you is sexy.”

This month we also saw Hungarian pop star Boggie make headlines and Facebook feeds with a clever YouTube video for the track “Parfum.” Over the course of three and a half artfully edited minutes, the 27-year-old singer undergoes a dramatic makeover from a real woman with various flaws into a glamorous ideal. Boggie explained to the U.K.’s Daily Star, “Women open magazines and they have to face that on the pages everyone looks perfect, therefore they start to feel imperfect. I wanted to make it clear that we shouldn’t try to compete with this perfectionism and manipulation, which ruins your self-esteem.”

As consumers, especially young women, start to reject perfectly manufactured beauty and embrace images that feel more “real,” brands will need to walk the line between aspirational ideals and more relatable imagery.

Image credit: Aerie