Makeup or Shut Up - The Herald: Opinion

Makeup or Shut Up

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Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2017 10:00 am

L’Oréal’s reaction to its first transgender ambassador’s comments about race speaks volumes about diversity in the beauty industry 

The beauty industry is no stranger to controversy. Jeffree Star, a YouTube makeup artist with his own cosmetic line, has a well-documented past full of racist social media outbursts, including one in which he referred to black women as apes and other racial slurs.

Fellow YouTube beauty gurus Jaclyn Hill and KathleenLights found themselves under fire when Hill posted a Snapchat video of KathleenLights using the n-word.

Now, beauty empire L’Oréal has found itself in the middle of the most recent incident of racial insensitivity involving its first transgender brand ambassador.

L’Oréal Paris UK was under fire last week for cutting ties with model, D.J. and activist Munroe Bergdorf.

Bergdorf was sacked from the company on Sept. 1 for a now-deleted Facebook post calling out white supremacy and racism after the Charlottesville rally.

The news came just three days after she was announced as an ambassador for the company’s #YoursTruly True Match campaign.

“Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour,” Bergdorf wrote.

L’Oréal Paris UK responded via Twitter, stating, “L’Oréal champions diversity. Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values so we have decided to end our partnership with her.”

Many are understandably confused as to which part of Bergdorf’s statements L’Oréal feels doesn’t line up with their values. The part where she mentions white privilege? Or how about the part where she truthfully points out that white privilege is built on the backs of people of color?

White privilege is inescapable and exists even in the minute aspects of society, particularly within the beauty industry where cosmetic companies cater primarily to a white consumer base. L’Oréal’s reaction to Bergdorf’s statement did nothing more than prove her point.

While several people came to Bergdorf’s rescue and defended her against L’Oréal’s unnecessary dismissal, several people took to social media to express their disgust with the model’s comments.

Many felt as though her comments were hateful and overgeneralizing.

Some Twitter users also felt as though Bergdorf ’s “hate speech” was undermining L’Oréal’s message of “diversity and inclusiveness.” 

L’Oréal has seen its fair share of accusations of racism. In 2007, the company lost a lawsuit brought against them claiming they discriminated against people of color when seeking ambassadors for its Garnier Fructis brand.

L’Oréal and its recruiting firm were required to pay fines of about $40,000 each. The brand also has been accused of lightening Beyoncé’s skin for a beauty campaign advertising their Féria hair dye. 

Nonetheless, instances like this are all too common in the world of big brands and con- sumerism.

e beauty industry fails to serve and market to women of color, who o en have to search high and low for hair products, skincare and foundations.

However, companies do not hesitate to nd women of col- or to use as pawns to sell their products while simultaneously ignoring and contributing to their struggles.

L’Oréal saw the capital gain in Bergdorf’s diversity –– a black, transgender woman –– but wanted nothing do with her social activism.

Those who are against racism, specifically black women, are often referred to as “anti-white” by those who refuse to see the bigger picture.

White supremacy exists. It is engrained in our society. It’s in our schools, our justice systems, our government and even the beauty industry.

This instance is just one of many in which anti-racist statements are condemned rather than actual racist rhetoric.

Silencing women of color does nothing more than prove the point several social activists are trying to convey. 

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1 comment:

  • Acaustik posted at 2:26 am on Sat, Sep 23, 2017.

    Acaustik Posts: 2

    White supremacy is so prevalent that a black man was president for eight years. If you think a facebook post incriminating "all white people" isn't in and of itself racist, then you might have to rethink some values. I don't know what else to tell you.


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