Updated: Feb 3, 2019
By previous writer Bianca Richards
In college, I was eager to pursue a career in beauty/editorial, and my first step through the door was interning with one of the world’s top-publishing women’s interests magazines. Words cannot express how grateful I am for learning alongside a beautiful, talented team of beauty writers because these women put power and force behind words and images that captivate readers throughout the world.
However, I also know that the beauty industry often loses sight of the bigger picture—or maybe they crop certain people out of the frame on purpose. We have heard countless apologies from brands such as Tarte, Make Up Forever, ColourPop, and Dove due to inexcusable comments, marketing tactics, and product releases that have offended many and ostracized women of color in most cases.
As recent as this week an Italian beauty brand called “Wycon” released a black shade of nail lacquer called “Thick as a n—a.” Then they said they were sorry despite something very egregious and seemingly intentional.
Brands make the same exclusionary decisions repeatedly throughout the years, and when the public lashes out, they call them “mistakes” and promise to correct themselves moving forward. This fad of offending the masses and then apologizing cannot be the next trend—companies need to do better on the front end. The fight for diversity, inclusion, and representation needs to take priority and become the new norm.
Representation is especially essential for the beauty industry because young girls and boys grow to admire the faces appearing on the front of magazines, TV screens, billboards, etc. Many women have spoken out against the discrimination and colorism that exists within the beauty industry, and many have expressed how the lack of representation affected their personal growth as women of color.
Take Alissa Ashley’s viral video reviewing Tarte’s new Shape Tape foundation line. She called out the pale offerings in the 15-shade line with foundations ranging from fair neutral, fair-light neutral, and only 2 shades for those with deeper skin tones: Mahogany and Rich Sand. There is clearly an appetite for authenticity of this kind, as Alissa Ashley has been known to be honest about brand quality, including when they lack inclusive products, and she recently hit the coveted 1-million subscriber mark. Fellow Youtuber Jackie Aina also dragged Tarte through the mud, and with 2-million subscribers behind her (as of this week), her opinions make huge waves.
As a beauty junkie, I am unquestionably obsessed with Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer, as is Alissa Ashley, but no amount of concealer can ever cover up big mistakes like the one they just pulled last week in their latest foundation launch. Tarte received such MAJOR backlash on their release that they issued a statement (via IG story) saying, “We want to let you know we hear you… You all know by now that we revealed our much anticipated shape tape foundation & the final shade range that we launched was definitely not representation of all of you...We lost sight of what’s really important in this industry…”
If you watch Alissa Ashley’s Tarte review to the end, she decides to wipe her face clean and begin her routine all over again, except this time using brands with more inclusive products or ones that have promised to revamp with more diverse groups of people in mind. Her obvious choice for foundation? Two words: Fenty Beauty.
Robyn Fenty, also known as Rihanna, has drastically impacted the beauty world by bringing to life 40-remarkable shades of foundation, thus providing women of color with the confidence to walk into a Sephora and purchase makeup that genuinely compliments their own natural beauty. Fenty Beauty is revolutionary for this ground-breaking launch, but the brand is also recognized for tackling exclusive competition that has deprived women of color the opportunities to be represented in the media.
Robyn Fenty expressed her thoughts to Catt Quin, editor at Refinery29, saying, “I wanted things that I love. Then I also wanted things that girls of all skin tones could fall in love with… That was really important for me. In every product I was like: ‘There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be something in-between.’ There’s red undertones, green undertones, blue undertones, pink undertones, yellow undertones…you want people to appreciate the product and not feel like: ‘Oh that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.”
To take it a step further, Rihanna hired this generation's’ most diverse models such as Paloma Elsesser and Duckie Thot—women who are often outcast by mainstream media because their beauty doesn’t coincide with traditional standards. Didn’t Rih tell us she was a savage?
It’s great that Fenty Beauty has made its mark and it’s being awarded for that—TIME named it one of the Best Innovations of 2017. But, we deserve to have more things to choose from—and that goes beyond makeup. Representation in every aspect of our society is vital as we continue to progress on this path of change.
Fenty Beauty cannot be the only mainstream beauty brand supporting an innovative movement that will benefit the lives of our future generations. Brands need to return to their vision board and reconsider their proposal strategies because we demand a more inclusive market.
That ancient, eurocentric definition of beauty is long gone, as we have a new generation of women such as Zendaya, Amara La Negra, SZA, Cardi B, Zoe Kravitz, Halima Aden, Adwoa Aboah, Slick Woods, and more representing the millions of faces that are constantly told “you just don’t fit the part.”
I want to see more online outlets highlighting a brand’s positive impact on the beauty industry instead of sharing many anger-filled tweets from dissatisfied consumers. Most of all, I want to see happiness illuminating from my melanin-babes because if there’s one thing that the industry cannot destruct, it’s the beauty of a confident woman, for true beauty stems from her heart and soul.
What do you think about the lack of inclusion in the beauty industry? Have anything to say to brands who constantly “make mistakes” and exclude diverse types of folks? Leave us a comment and start the discussion below!