Jamie Kern Lima

Jamie Kern Lima is ready for the beauty industry to get real.

As she accepted her award at the CEW Achiever Awards on Friday, Lima, the founder and chief executive officer of It Cosmetics, called for the beauty industry to start using everyday women in imagery. Lima, who sold her business in 2016 to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion, explained why she uses real women in her campaigns.

“In the beauty industry, we’ve bought into the notion that you have to show these unattainable images of aspiration in order to sell products – me standing here right now and the success of It Cosmetics is proof that this isn’t true,” Lima said, launching into an impassioned speech as she accepted her award.

“What my gut told me was women are tired of buying from ads in commercials with women who don’t look like them,” Lima said, talking about her first launch on QVC. “I decided to literally risk everything and do things differently.” She sold out her 6,400 concealers in 10 minutes, she said.

It came at a time when a potential investor had told Lima that he was going to pass on doing a deal. “I’ll never forget when I asked him why. He said to me, ‘I don’t know if women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you. You know with your body and with your weight.’”

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Lima ended with a call to action – asking audience members what they wanted their daughters to see – and saying that while some positive changes have definitely occurred, there’s more room to grow. Lima ticked off the names of  brands with leaders in the room, and noted they have the power to control the images surrounding beauty. “You have a lot of power to make your mark on the beauty industry and the world,” Lima said. “I want to ask you to take a huge step back and think about what really matters and think about the difference you’re going to make on the lives of women and girls globally.”

“As an industry, we’re still just scratching the surface of what needs to change,” Lima said. “If we as beauty companies want every woman to buy our products, why do we show her images that don’t look like her? What impact do these images of beauty have on the world? Right here, right now, we’re the ones that have the power to change this.”

Lima was one of a handful of women honored at the event, held at the Hilton in New York. Achiever Award winners were Barbara Calcagni, president of Nars; Maureen Kelly, chief executive officer and founder of Tarte; Gemma Lionello, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of accessories and beauty at Nordstrom; Loretta Mirgalia, corporate senior vice president and global brand product development and innovation at La Mer, and Kelly Vanesse, vice president of communications at Procter & Gamble.