It’s Stylist Wednesday!!
The quality of the editorial is undisputed and last week’s issue was by no means an exception.
The article that got Twitter ‘a-buzzing’ and that catapulted its author Anita Bhagwandas (Stylist’s Beauty Assistant and Guardian beauty blog contributor) into the limelight , was the candid account of her experience of her unending quest for makeup that suited her skin tone, entitled the ‘Changing Face of Beauty’.
Of course, those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that this IS a subject that is extremely close to my heart, and it was one of the main reasons why I started to write. Why is it that, in 2012, in one of the leading nations of the developed world, do I still feel that my needs are not being adequately catered for ?
I had wanted to respond to the article sooner, but each time I began to unpack the content, there were so many different issues and points of discussion that could have been broached (from ‘shadeism’ to outright discrimination or the hypocrisy of some beauty companies such as Unilever that claim to champion self esteem in women and young girls with their Dove ad campaigns, but are at the same time manufacturing and selling skin lightening creams with the key message that ‘lighter is better’)…
…that I had to take a pause and re evaluate my approach…or else I would have ended up writing an essay!!
To say that the piece struck a chord is something of an understatement!
Anita’s article certainly struck a chord with the general public as well…
Here are some of the comments that it generated (taken form the Stylist website):
…. there was even a comment from a celebrity MUA!
People were clearly moved by her account – and so many could identify with her experience. So, what did I take away from the article?
1. There is still an lack of visibility of women of colour in the mainstream media.
I have touched on this topic in the past, but it is a saddening fact that it is still rare to see a person of colour (who is not a celebrity) being represented fairly and accurately in the British media. How many TV ads can you think of that feature black people just being…normal? Buying washing up liquid? Going to the supermarket? Choosing a mortgage? Buying a car?
What become apparent from the publication of Anita’s article is the insatiable demand for such coverage in the mainstream media. Last week’s issue became like gold dust!!
The lack of representation of women of colour in the beauty press has been well documented, and this is why I make it a point to assess the marketing campaigns that support the launches of ranges with items for dark skin tones in my product reviews, because this lack of awareness causes a viscous cycle – if the target market is not aware that a brand has a product for them, they do not purchase these products, and because they do not buy the products the sales are low and because the sales are low, the companies conclude that there is little demand for the items and decide to discontinue or reduce the offering….
2. We need to hold key positions within the industry.
I left this comment on the Stylist website in response to Anita’s article:
I really believe that real change is dependent upon more women of colour penetrating the beauty business. Why is it that there are usually a high percentage of ‘workers of colour’ on the shop floors of major beauty companies (in London anyway) yet very few in the head offices of these same companies?
Our needs can only be articulated by us. Kay Montano ,a leading British MUA, hit the nail on the head in the article when she stated that our needs “ may not always occur to them, for example, if there isn’t someone non-white on the committee. I saw a body product for ‘normal to dark skin’ recently. It wasn’t meant maliciously but there’s an element of ignorance.”
Educating those within the UK beauty industry is also essential, so I was really pleased to see that Esi Eggleston Bracey, the Vice President and General Manager, Global P&G Cosmetics will be a key note speaker at the CEW UK inaugural Beauty Summit taking place in June.
She will be talking about the dramatically changing industry and what does this mean for beauty companies!
Anita’s article certainly reinvigorated the debate about beauty for women of colour…and long may it continue!
What are your thoughts? I would love to know!