No Beauty Guru Left Behind
Disclaimer: I love watching YouTubers. I love that so many of them have been able to turn their hobbies into full-fledged careers, becoming ambassadors for the brands of their dreams and creating their own products. I think it brings an incredibly fresh perspective to an industry that has been controlled by too few people for too long. But that's another story. When I saw that James Charles landed a campaign with Covergirl I was excited. Manny from Manny Mua revealed that he would be working with Maybelline and I was thrilled. When Anastasia Beverly Hills showcased their new imagery with Patrick Starrr I cheered with everyone else. For the first time, big name brands would feature men wearing makeup in their advertisements - making their products more inclusive to those who had been left out of the makeup conversation for far too long.
But then I paused and thought about it. Who were we leaving behind as we pushed forward into a future of openness and diversity?
Women of color and curvy women have been left out of the beauty conversation for years. While white women have dominated advertisements for major beauty brands, often in the form of big-name actresses and pop stars, the representation of women of color and especially curvy women has been few and far between.
Think about it - when you go to the drugstore, what is the foundation selection like? I have had experiences where I've gone to buy a new foundation in the summer months, and have been able to use the second darkest shade in the collection. As one of the palest people among my friends, there is no way that I should be the second darkest shade. The beauty community simply doesn't serve women of color. That's something that needs to change.
As for curvy women, this is an obvious hole in the beauty world. These women, like women of color, like men and like people of any other categories I have missed, are stunningly beautiful and utilize makeup just as much as the rest of the population. These women deserve to be represented in brand imagery and promotions. They deserve to be welcomed into the beauty community with open arms. If we are promoting the idea that the community is about embracing your inner beauty and expressing it on the outside, then that should apply to everyone - right?
That's not to say that some brands aren't working toward becoming more inclusive. L'Oreal has expanded its color range and featured women of color like Liya Kebede, Eva Longoria and Freida Pinto. Anastasia Beverly Hills frequently showcases women of color utilizing its products, and Lancôme has named Lupita Nyong'o as a face of the brand.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't be featuring men who are as influential in this world as Patrick Starrr, Manny and James Charles. We should be celebrating their ability to open the world's eyes to the versatility of beauty.
What I am asking is that brands take a look at all of the women who they have been leaving out of the conversation for years. Unlike men, the majority of these women are consumers of makeup. They are the primary customer base. As a strategy, these are the people that makeup brands could have, and should have, been targeting this whole time.
A message to the companies that fill the shelves of Sephora and Ulta: it's time to take a look at what the world looks like and represent that in your advertisments. It's time to look at who is actually buying your makeup and serve them with products that can work for them. It's time to realize that diversity can be used for more than shock factor - and that there is a world of women who are waiting for a brand to embrace them.