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Beauty

The Most Beautiful Woman Of 2020: Israeli Model Yael Shelbia

By Meghan Dillon·· 5 min read
yael shelbia

Every year TC Candler of the Annual Independent Critics List releases a list of the 100 Most Beautiful Faces.

Candler prides himself on his list being different from other “most beautiful” lists. He writes, “Unlike most other annual beauty rankings, the List is not a popularity contest and is most definitely not country-specific. It is not about the sexiest body or the most famous celebrity. Rather, the list attempts to inform and broaden public opinion instead of reflecting it. You will find superstars and new stars, global sensations and relative unknowns.” 

The list contains women from six continents and includes women we all know, like Lily Collins, Emma Watson, Selena Gomez, and Gal Gadot, to ones we have never heard of, like this year’s winner — Israeli-born model Yael Shelbia.

Who Is Yael Shelbia?

Shelbia is a 19-year-old model and actress who is famous in her native Israel, but you might recognize her as one of the models for KKW Beauty, Kim Kardashian’s beauty brand. She isn’t very active in the modeling world right now because she’s currently serving in the Israeli Air Force and only travels to Los Angeles when she has time off. With her new title, she will likely be a face to watch when her time in the military is up.

Shelbia was flattered by her new title. She told The Times of Israel, “I’ve never come first at anything…. it’s very nice.” She has made the TC Candler list since 2017.

Shelbia comes from a religious Orthodox Jewish family and practices Shabbat. Unfortunately for Shelbia, her religion and modeling career have sometimes clashed. She attended an all-girls Jewish high school where her modeling career was seen as inappropriate, but she persevered. She has also been vocal about some of her struggles with navigating her modeling career while practicing Orthodox Judaism. Some of these struggles have included a lack of kosher food at shoots, a lack of modest clothing, and her observance of the Sabbath.

Shelbia has turned down jobs that can’t meet her accommodations. She says, "I lost campaigns by hundreds of thousands of shekels, and I also gave up a clip with Moshe Peretz because the filming was on Saturday and I couldn't do without the Shabbat space. But I have values ​​and education that I received from home, and I will not give them up for any fortune in the world. I also think it sets me apart from other models: there are a lot of girls who are willing to model swimwear and lingerie, so I'm special. This is a big advantage for me and not a disadvantage."

Despite some struggles in the modeling industry, Shelbia has managed to persevere, and what’s more beautiful than that?

Yael Has Made Headlines Before

Yael already made headlines in 2020, long before she won the TC Candler list. In June, her 35-year-old American billionaire boyfriend was deported from Israel after news sources revealed he had violated his visa to visit Yael.

His special visa had been issued to allow him to see his brother, who was on active duty for the Israeli Defense Force. Instead, he was discovered staying at his girlfriend's apartment. Israeli authorities rescinded his visa and deported him from the country. Seems like a lot of trouble, unless your girlfriend is the most beautiful woman in the world.

What Does This Say about Beauty Standards around the World?

I love how diverse this list is, proving that beauty has no race, color, or ethnic group. Women like Lupita Nyong’o and Priyanka Chopra were both featured and are arguably some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, even though they don’t fit the traditional Hollywood beauty standard.

It can be argued that beauty companies like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna helped diversify the beauty industry, and it’s nice to see such a diverse group of women being recognized for how truly beautiful they really are. This shouldn’t be a yearly trend, but the norm in the beauty industry.

It’s nice to see such a diverse group of women being recognized for how truly beautiful they really are.

When discussing the advancements of diversity in the beauty industry, beauty writer for Revelist Blake Newby writes, "On one hand, it makes me excited that the industry is making steps toward more diversity and inclusion. On the other, it disappoints me that it took brands like Fenty to get the beauty industry to care. Diversity is more than just a trend; it's real life. Making women of color a priority shouldn't only be done to gain popularity. Our skin and our hair should mean more than just dollar signs. So yes, it's great, but what took so long?" 

A New View of Beauty

What makes Candler’s list different from others is that it’s meant to "put together a list representative of the modern ideal of worldwide beauty. Aesthetic perfection is only one of the criteria. Grace, elegance, originality, daring, passion, class, poise, joy, promise, hope…they are all embodied in a beautiful face."

Grace, elegance, originality, daring, passion, class, poise, joy…they are all embodied in a beautiful face.

I really like that the list focuses on beauty over sexuality. Beauty and sexuality are intertwined but still separate. For years, the most beautiful women were considered to be the sexiest by showing off the most skin and emphasizing their sexuality. The women on this list prove this to be unnecessary by showing that women can be beautiful without showing off too much skin.

Closing Thoughts

TC Candler’s list of the 100 most beautiful faces reflects what the world views as beautiful. As Yael Shelbia led a group of diverse women from all around the world, it proves that the world is broadening its view of what’s considered beautiful.

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