4 March 2015
Look Who's Misrepresenting You: The Beauty Industry & WOC
Twitter is usually the place where I talk about reality tv (my guilty pleasure), repost interesting articles and check my notification, yesterday I was was @ mentioned in a petition by @weareworthit2 that prompts companies such as coty & loreal to 'Sell cosmetic facial products on the high street for ethnic minorities in the UK'. @weareworthit2 or Miriam as I later found out is truly passionate about this issue (learn more here) and I've long since been bashing away at this topic. Some time ago I wrote an open letter to brands '50 shades of beige' where I vented my frustrations at the cosmetics on offer on the great British high street. This article led to my participating in the early days of Brown Beauty Talk a successful beauty chat and website for women of colour. So such a petition should be right up my street?
Well yes and no, It's coming on two years since I wrote my open letter to the beauty industry, I'm now very much over my "post adolescent idealistic phase" (yep that's from Clueless) and I'm now in my 'middle finger up to the establishment phase', let me explain change in mood.
As much as I agree with the premise behind such petitions, and believe representation in the beauty industry and the mainstream media is important for WOC as well as being able to see your likeness when you go into a store or open a magazine is important. I'm also wary, now more than ever of minding who is representing us (WOC) or more accurately Misrepresenting us. These large conglomerates don't have us as their target audience, though we still spend billions on cosmetics and hair products with these brands. These companies do not seem to have many WOC working at the grass roots of the industry such as CEOs, directors, chemists ect ect. These companies don't use our likeness in their ad campaigns an when they do in order to meet their diversity quota they do not provide the product in stores. These large companies DO however have CEOs that 'can smell black people when the walk into a room' and these companies DO appropriate our image to better that of their preferred beauty 'ideal'. So why on earth do I want to be represented by these people?
This is why I'm an advocate for black owned brands, Small businesses (in comparison to loreal and the like). It's important that we represent ourselves. Support black owned business or businesses that have us as their target audience. Supporting a black owned business does not limit your choices, it doesn't mean only ever buying from black people it means sustaining a community and paving the way for these brands to grow so that we see our TRUE likeness in the media/beauty industry (same end goal just a different route y'all!)
Yes it would be great to go to Boots and Superdrug and buy a £5.99 foundation but that's not happening, it hasn't been happening for quite some time and rather than beg for the scraps from Longshanks table" (yes a Brave Heart quote!) let's set our own table and fill it with the things we need. Stop waiting for a beauty industry that does not want to include us (unless it benefits them) to represent us.
There are always going to be people who want the easier option of shopping on the high street but I don't believe this will promote change, this will line the pockets of the fat cats and while the money keeps rolling in, they have no reason to change a damn thing.
This post is not meant to bash this petition or ones like it. I myself have been frustrated with the lack of representation, which is why I started my blog, but after years of just being frustrated I need to do something that I feel will actually make a difference. It's just another opinion and perhaps something to think about.