By Uzma Chaudhry
People of Colour: “Wow, it’d be nice to have a foundation that isn’t ashy on my skin, or a mixture of 8 foundations and my brown eyeshadow.”
Beauty Industry: *crickets*
People of Colour: “… just one…foundation range for…darker skin…?”
Beauty Industry: ???
People of Colour: That’s not quite-
YSL’s ‘all inclusive’ concealer range
I don’t think I’m alone as a woman of colour stepping foot into any drugstore (or for special occasions, a Harvey Nichols) in search of a foundation to cover the latest spot that has set up camp on my chin. As you approach a glossy counter cluttered with shiny bottles, fluffy brushes and an assortment of powered gold, you look to the make up assistant, hoping she’ll sense that you feel a little out of your comfort zone.
Perhaps this experience isn’t synonymous to women of colour. But where it differs is as you sit down to get colour matched, the assistant analyses your “exotic” skin as she hovers over the (only) 2 dark shades creating this illusion of there even being a choice. She politely smiles as she dabs a blob of gunk onto the back of her hand and scans your face for the lightest area in the hope you may not notice that it’s still 8 shades too dark.
This experience is sadly not new to people of colour, and naturally, this lack of inclusion is not by any means limited to the beauty industry. There seems to be a scheduled cycle of outrage at the lack of inclusivity followed by a empty acknowledgement of the error of their ways shortly followed by another post like this…
This isn’t exclusive to 2018, or ’17 or ’16 but articles have highlighted this where the industry is wilfully ignorant to the lack of diversity. And I don’t feel like the issue is as simple as “just create darker shades”, for that doesn’t address the institutional racism that extends beyond the lab where the colours are mixed. It seeps into the marketing departments, into the social media teams and bubbles up towards the CEO, where it’s projected through damaging tokenism that allows ashy foundation to gather dust on the right side of the shelf.
To not mention Fenty Beauty in a piece that highlights the skewed range of cosmetics would surely be a sin. Fenty Beauty, after a month was worth $72 million according to Women’s Wear Daily. There’s not a great deal left to say besides the fact that women of colour are indifferent to the meaningless attempts of inclusion because…we have Fenty.
Uzma works full time in business sales at Telefonica. She is studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics part –time with Open University as a means to make sense of the world in which we exist! She is a v·inspired ambassador whose work revolves around empowering young people into volunteering and leadership. In her spare time she enjoys musing in her blog and has writing pieces on faith and race, offering a more holistic perspective on current affairs. If she has any juice left by the end of the week, she creates Youtube videos for her channel Caruzmatic as well as run a small venture in selling her bespoke art for ucdesigns.co.uk