How Beauty Brands Are Profiting Off Racism
Are brands too ignorant to distinguish when they are releasing something racist, or is it all part of a huge, sick, tactic? It is the 21st century, but the corporate world seems to still be stuck in a less enlightened time as evidenced by the racist, tone-deaf, and extremely offensive advertisements and products some companies proffer.
However, brands no longer seem to be sincerely oblivious to their discriminatory and racist behaviour. In fact, manipulating one’s emotions and psyche is the perfect way to receive attention and possible profit from one’s pain
Recently, two distinct forms of racism have been perpetuated by beauty brands. The first involves racist language, references, and stereotypes that are ridiculously blatant and ignorant. The second offense centers around product ranges with a stunning lack of diversity. Both actions lead to well-deserved backlash from marginalized communities — particularly people of color.
The pattern of less blatant and yet still problematic racism has been repeatedly addressed, and occurs when brands neglect to cater to all complexions. With each new foundation and concealer launch, customers are keeping a close eye on shade ranges. Recently, many companies have been found lacking in this process, particularly when displaying swatches that seem to ignore dark skin tones. It leaves the impression that creating makeup for light skin is prioritized over accommodating medium and dark complexions. It perpetuates the idea that dark skin tones are abnormal, complicated and burdensome, thus difficult to understand and include.
Then, there's overtly racist language. Last fall, Tarte made a racially insensitive joke against Asian people on social media, using “ching chong” in a meme. Furthermore, the persistent use of the n-word by white influencers and brands has occurred time and time again, overlapping in the fashion industry as well. Digital entrepreneur and Buro 24/7 cofounder Miroslava Duma came under fire for posting an offensive card from Russian couture designer Ulyana Sergeenko. Both women received immediate backlash for condoning the racial slur and apologizing in a manner that many deemed disrespectful. In addition, the Italian brand Wycon Cosmetics became the latest offender when they named one of their nail polish shades “Thick as a n***a.” Identifying the colour they assigned to that name is no guessing game.
Are these brands playing a huge prank on communities of color? In a time when most beauty and fashion brands are colouring their social media and products with diversity whether out of genuine desire to cater to everyone, capitalist necessity, or to avoid losing consumers, it seems shocking that some companies still make such careless mistakes.
Now, social media is quick to call out major brands for insensitivity and negligenc. Unsurprisingly, people are furious with tasteless branding, but this time, there is the additional annoyance of feeling...