Lesson for 2020, CHANGE is inevitable!
2020 closed out our last decade then came stomping in full force. The last six months have been eye opening to health, politics, socialism and financial well-being. You would think that the beauty industry would be the last thing on most of our minds right now. Sharon Chuter’s #PullUporShutUp challenge is still circulating heavy for a very valid reason. The truth is that the beauty industry plays a huge roll in how we see ourselves unconsciously on a day to day basis.
For that reason, I believe that the beauty industry has a responsibility to expand its views on what it defines as “Beautiful” to the public eye. While we can’t force established brands to be what they’re not, we can all openly support the beauty of what makes us all different as human beings. That includes how we market, advertise, who we partner with, how we strategize and who’s voice we consider in our team conversations during projects. It has to start at the top!
What brands can do to #PullUpforChange:
- Take polls from their audience about areas in their business that they’d like to improve. Social platforms are a great place to do this because conversations are more open. It allows a greater opportunity for unbiased honesty from consumers that aren’t die hard fans.
- Hire culturally diverse photographers and consultants to help with imagery. Allow them to have a voice in how models are portrayed before releasing those images.
- Produce imagery that supports all hair types in their natural state TOGETHER as a group and separately.
- Build a management team that solely focuses on equal treatment and equal participation within the company. Make sure that the team holds an equal number of people from diverse backgrounds. Periodically partner them with someone from a different background so that they can learn from each other.
- Have cultural awareness celebrations within the company. You don’t have to give a big speech or formally announce the event as a “XYZ Cultural” event. You can find a subtle approach that allows inclusion. Example: To celebrate Vegans/Vegetarians : Company Fruit & Vegetable Day! To celebrate Cultural Inclusion: Company “We are One” Week- maybe issue a camouflage wristband or pin. To support the LGTB+ community: Ask the entire team to wear a different solid color pair of socks or tee shirt during Pride Month so that there’s a rainbow effect in the building.
- Work with influencers that have a diverse view of the beauty industry instead of just influencers that have a huge following.
Why is representation important?
First and foremost, all cultures and races deserve to be represented correctly! Representation is important more than ever because beauty brands face direct backlash for mistakes and sometimes can’t be reversed. Fans and the beauty community can be very unforgiving for mistakes regarding skin tone. It isn’t just Black people in general that see these mistakes and speak out about them. Brands fear the Cancel Culture but continue to think that they can get away with cutting corners. Brands don’t realize that they cancel themselves when it comes to how they represent people of color in campaigns and advertising when it comes to skin tone.
Becca Cosmetics was under fire in 2018 for photo shopping a dark skinned arm to model shades for their foundation. While they did acknowledge their mistake and re-shoot the advertisement, the beauty community quickly labeled Becca as careless when it came to dark skin. The beauty community also called them out for photo shopping the actual shade swatches. Dark skinned people do not have dark skin inside their palms and the shade swatches clearly look different on the actual dark skinned arm in their second shoot. It made the public feel like they didn’t care enough to cast a dark skinned model and were indulging in false advertising.
This is another situation with ColourPop that continues to live on. ColourPop made the same mistake as Becca and the beauty community is still bringing it up today. The post on the left was actually posted in a Facebook ColourPop Fanatic group last week. It clearly shows the poor editing and fake imagery representing dark skin. An inclusive team would’ve likely been more reluctant to release these images because of the misrepresentation.
Why is it such a BIG DEAL?
If the images of “beauty” are only seen as one group of people then your brand will never truly grow passed the people that you represent. While POC love these brands products, they are more likely to leave or stop supporting when they see that they’re undervalued. Why give your money to a beauty brand that doesn’t see you as beautiful? Ethnic groups should be represented in their true nature. This is one of the main focuses for the Pull Up for Change movement.
The world is waking up to how we have all been fooled into thinking that we should all look the same. Reality teaches us that we don’t all fit in one category. Systemic racism is sometimes an unconscious doing because we’ve been conditioned to accept it from those higher up or those before us who we admire. By that I mean repetitive behavior that steers away from evolution because its ‘Normal” to do things a certain way within the company although we know it needs improvement or to broaden its perspective. The fact that some companies don’t acknowledge their part in it tells consumers just how much they care, despite their PR statements.
I’ll be giving updates about the brands that have made a conscious effort to change so stay tuned!