From using makeup to create blackface, or hiring BIPOC simply as props or accessories, the beauty community has a lot to answer for in response to the last few weeks.
Beauty influencers, including Souhila Ben Lachhab, Martina Surma and Ken Francisco De Dios, have responded to the BLM movement by painting their faces black as a way to show their belief in ‘oneness’. Unsurprisingly, these influencers have been met with anger, with many commenting that such blackface is deeply offensive. Though some influencers such as Rashmi Maan, did apologise and delete their photos, it has revealed a massive problem in the beauty community. Ultimately, it has shown how makeup can be used as a tool to be insensitive and offensive.
Makeup should be used to create and experiment, and whilst yes, it is freeing and fun, it is meant to build people up, not bring people down. It is so disappointing to see these influencers completely missing the mark when it comes to BLM. There are better ways to encourage greater diversity in the industry, perhaps by drawing attention to particular companies’ foundation shade ranges being shockingly limited.
On a more positive note, popular YouTubers like Roxxsaurus and Mia Maples have uploaded videos where they will be donating the Adsense profit to Black Lives Matter charities. Whilst it is great to see this type of content being shown to a wide audience, I do not want to just see one video and to then see a switch back to the usual makeup and fashion content. The beauty world is so big – it is growing bigger and bigger every day – and these influencers have extremely vast platforms. I would have loved to see them doing more to shed light on problems within the beauty community when it comes to diversity, and actively trying to share this awareness with their viewers. One video or performative post to Instagram is not enough. Wouldn’t it be great to see these big influencers learn how they and their viewers could do better to increase inclusivity in the beauty world or educate themselves about serious issues facing the Black community?
Even Jeffree Star, one of the biggest influencers in the beauty community, has once again been called out for his tone-deaf and ignorant response to the Black community. In 2017 he was forced to apologise for past racist comments, and in 2018 Jackie Aina called Jeffree out again for his racist behaviour. Yet still in February 2020, Jeffree was criticized for cultural appropriation after he wore cornrows. As if his history of racist behaviour was not enough, beauty guru Kameron Lester recently made a video saying Jeffree tokenized him as a Black person. Jeffree used Kameron on a concealer and setting powder campaign, but Kameron claimed he felt he was used as a prop for Jeffree. When Kameron tried to bring up past issues around Jeffree’s racist behaviour, he said he was shut down.
Jeffree is one of the biggest names around in the beauty world, but his behaviour and lack of genuine effort to support the Black community is concerning. He recently collaborated with popular YouTuber Shane Dawson on the “conspiracy palette”, even though Shane has often used blackface in his past videos. Jeffree and Shane have over 40 million subscribers across their channels and have a sold-out make up range. What kind of message are they promoting by taking a backseat, especially considering they have done so much to offend the Black community in the past?
I love the beauty world, but it needs to change. I want to see influencers pulling together in support of BLM instead of using it to promote themselves. Beauty and fashion is such a wonderful world, but the community can absolutely do more.