November 25, 2018

Musings: Diversi-tea in the Beauty Industry (Part Two)

Kelle:

Who remembers when I joined forces with the lovely Charlotte (Char) from Memoirs and Musings to discuss diversity in the beauty industry? A lot has happened since this post first went live so Charlotte and I have joined forces yet again to discuss the current state of the beauty industry. Are the voices of WoC really being heard? Is blackfishing degrading? What should brands be doing in order to be diverse? No table has been left unturned in this post and we also want to hear from you too! Use the hashtag #EveryHUEIsBeautiful to get involved.

Char: 

I’m really happy we both have a platform to keep this conversation going. This post I’ve stepped away a little and let Kelle take the reins. I hope you’re interested on our observations and experiences. 

How can upcoming/new brands champion diversity?

Kelle:

For brands to champion diversity, I believe they must admit that there is a lack of product and service offerings for people of colour. A problem can’t be addressed without admitting there is an issue. WoC have such a high spending power so why aren’t we being catered to? I recall seeing a thread on Twitter where one WoC was at the airport and needed foundation and she couldn’t find her shade. When she enquired about more shades, she was simply told that ‘that was all they had’. Experiences like this are very frustrating mostly because most brands that we adore are susceptible to such behaviours. Where will the line be drawn? 

Market research is also an issue. I don’t think brands should be solving a problem like a lack of diversity internally. I think that they need to adopt a proactive approach to finding out what they should be doing to be more inclusive. NYX are a good example of this. They recently partnered up with YouTuber Alissa Ashley on the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation range. Even though it has received its fair share of criticism, NYX are going out of their way to make sure WoC are represented. As a former Marketing professional, I also feel that brands should make use of focus groups. Find some WoC, ask them what they would like to see in shops and gain an understanding of who they are. Marketing should be a constant force, especially in an industry that is as competitive as the cosmetics field. Storytelling is also something that brands are starting to introduce, and this helps customers feel like they do matter!

Char:

New and upcoming brands can champion diversity but learning the mistakes of their predecessors. Research, business planning and having an understanding of your customer base is key. 

 

What are your thoughts on the ‘blackfishing ’scandal?

Kelle:

One of the things that shocks me the most about blackfishing is that these influencers have been able to get away with this for so long! The likes of Emma Hallberg reek of deception. The fact that all of these ‘blackfishers’ have modified their appearance to look black is terrible. Hallberg claims she tans very quickly but she lives in Sweden and European countries don’t experience prolonged periods of warmth. You can clearly see from her before and after photos that there is a difference in colour between her face and her body. Black women have struggled to find beauty in their complexion and their hair. We are finally being represented thanks to ground-breaking influencers such as Jackie Aina and Patricia Bright but our culture and our features are being monetized by nonblack women, who perceive our culture as some sort of trend.

Char:

‘They’ want our looks but not the struggle that comes along with it. 

Cancel Culture: To be or not to be? 

Kelle:

Cancel culture is simply intensified hype. The cancel culture can be toxic and unhelpful. I feel like the cancel culture is started by one person and before you know it, everyone else has adopted the same way of thinking. 

Today’s strong tea…

The rise of social media has made it harder for people to think for themselves. It seems like everyone wants to follow the crowd. Do you remember when Dove, Shea Moisture and Nivea were cancelled, the latter in particular? Nivea were under fire for the launch of a skin lightening cream back in 2017. There were so many calls for people to boycott the brand because of this. Did you know that the word Nivea is taken from the Latin word ‘Niveus’ which means ‘snow-white’? so it was only a matter of time before the brand decided to cash in on the skin bleaching craze. Unfortunately, a lot of brands will cash in on the insecurities of WoC which is why I wasn’t surprised at the news that Blac Chyna has joined forces with singer Dencia’s brand Whitenicious to endorse a new skin lightening cream. WoC are a force to be reckoned with so it is important that we don’t give in to such ideals. We shouldn’t give energy to anything that encourages us to divulge into self-hate and pity. I don’t stan for cancel culture, but I do believe an open mind and willingness to educate yourself as a WoC is key. It is your right and it is your responsibility. 

Char:

I wrote a blog post on my thoughts on social media in 2018 and I think the whole cancel culture is straight up dumb. It’s healthier to have a discussion rather than cancel a brand entirely because its ‘trendy’ to do so. 

Can controversial brands redeem themselves?

Kelle:

No, I don’t believe that we can. In our society, news travels like wildfire, so when I go to my Twitter feed and I’m seeing swatches of Tarte’s newest foundation with just two or three shades that would be deemed suitable for WoC, I feel so uncomfortable. We buy your eyeshadow palettes, we buy your lipsticks, we even buy your overpriced highlighters, but you can’t get it right when it comes to our foundations? It is 2018 and Black, Asian and Latina women shouldn’t be asking why they aren’t represented. If a brand doesn’t cater to us, we must be aware of this. I would encourage any woman to use a product that doesn’t accentuate her beauty and make her feel good too because that’s what makeup and skincare is all about really. What was it a wise man once said about going where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated? Just some food for thought…

Of course I had to use this gif. 

Char:

Some are beyond repair and are just straight up messy, so I’m on the fence about this one. I feel like they need to employ the right people and PR teams to transform them. 

If I had a brand of my own, what three things would be at its core? 

Kelle:

Inclusivity – If I had a beauty brand, I would ensure that inclusivity would reign supreme. I would want every woman to feel like she was represented. Also, I’d like any campaigns I launched to reflect this.

Storytelling – As mentioned earlier, I think storytelling will become even more of a craze in 2019. Brands are starting to realise that pictures and pricing strategies just won’t cut it. Moving the customer’s mind has now become just as important as moving their purse strings. 

A brand is a lifestyle.

Quality and Affordability – These two go hand in hand. There’s nothing worse than buying an affordable product that you were really excited about, only for it to fail to live up to your expectations. Any product affiliated with my brand would do exactly what it says on the packaging. I’d also take different skincare needs and requirements into consideration too.

To conclude, I believe that there is still a long way to go in the fight for diversity. What about Fenty Beauty you may say? Well, cosmetics brands for WoC existed way before Fenty did (Iman, Black Opal etc) and part of the brand’s ability to revolutionize the beauty industry was due to the fact that it was endorsed by one of the world’s biggest pop stars. Attitudes need to be changed, differences need to be welcomed, voices need to be heard and the needs of WoC should be catered to as part of the norm and not pity.

Char: 

This is something I’m working on over the next few years, so watch this space…

We hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this post.
Don’t forget to tell your friends about Kelle’s Space and Memoirs & Musings.
And don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, retweet, share, put us on billboards etc.

Use the hashtag #EveryHUEIsBeautiful to get involved.

Char & Kelle  

Please note, memes and gifs do not belong to me. They have been sourced from GIPHY or my screenshots folder!

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