The Power of a Single Voice

12 months ago I asked a question : Why is maybelline ignoring women of colour?

The blog post received a fair bit of attention online and it highlighted the ongoing issue within the cosmetic industry and them not catering to women of colour. 

Maybelline then reached out to me and a month later invited me to the L'oreal headquarters in Hammersmith. 

I knew that this was a once in a life time opportunity because the biggest makeup brand in the world wanted my thoughts on ways they could improve. 

I wrote a letter expanding on the blog post and outlined the steps Maybelline could make to get things right.  You can read it below:

 

The meeting went really well and I felt listened to. I was promised that this issue would be tackled and changes were going to happen. I was very glad to hear all of this but my cynical nature couldn't help but believe this was all talk and no action. 

A lot of large corporations when faced with a PR nightmare or controversy usually parrot the same empty platitudes and promises. They rely on our short attention spans and addiction to outrage and hope that in time people will forget and the story will eventually die. 

This was my expectation. I didn't think anything would actually change. 

An email in January

 

On the 12th of January 2017,  less than a year later I got an email from the head of communications at Maybelline, it included this:

"Thank you for voicing your opinion – it is these opinions and actions that drive change and force companies to listen" 
We’re excited to be able to share that we’ve expanding our foundation shade range to cover all ends of the spectrum, launching next month... We’re so proud to have been able to listen to our community, and respond in a meaningful way with a better offering for our consumers.

 

I was completely stunned. I read the email a few times over and I was and still am a little in disbelief. I really didn't think they were going to listen to me let alone do something. 

In mid February I met the ladies at Maybelline. The meeting went very well and they showed me all the new products, the planning and decisions behind it and the campaign that would be launching that day. The women I met were absolutely lovely and I could really see the hard work they had put in to make things right. 

When I got home I saw this on TV:

I almost cried. 

I was given some of the products to try out and I am honestly so impressed by the quality and the amount of shades available.  This isn't just me saying it because I have a history with Maybelline. The stand out product for me is the Dream Satin Liquid, I use both Armani Luminous Silk and Lancome Teint Idole and the Maybelline product stands on par with both, and the important thing is now all women have good products available to them at a fair price instead of having to use those two products which cost £30+ each. 

I also really liked the Fit Me foundation which is matte and good for oily skin. 

 

Seeing the ads, and trying out the products, all of it has been completely overwhelming, incredible and a little bit nuts. 

I do have to say though that this is all great and Maybelline should be commended for what they've done but we can't just throw up our hands now and say: " okay everything is fine now, we can all go home, discrimination is over! " So much more needs to be done, not just with cosmetics but beyond.  For instance providing concealers and powders as well. 

Bourjois and Max Factor have never catered to darker skinned women. Rimmel tells you to "get the london look" but I guess that only means a certain type of Londoner. 

Why does "nude" automatically connote fair skin? 

I can't buy skin coloured tights anywhere on the high street, I have to buy clear plasters because no one thinks that brown skinned people might need plasters and bandages too. 

And if you live in a world where everything is catered for you, where you are the default,  none of these things matter. 

Representation, diversity and provision matters. 

So, to anyone out there reading this, my story is proof that by raising your voice and speaking out about things that bother you things can and do change. 

You have a voice, use it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Thoughts On My Maybelline UK Article

Last week I wrote this blog post on Maybelline's newest foundation and it has managed to get a bit of traction online. It reached the Daily Mail and Telegraph and while I disagree with a few things on the articles, I recognise that newspapers have to sensationalise their headlines a bit.

However I am happy the issue has gotten publicity and most  importantly it has sparked up discussion and hopefully we can see some changes. 

 Daily Mail 

Daily Mail 

I do want to clarify a few things though. 

I do not hate Maybelline. 

The way I write may come across  acerbic and maybe confrontational but most people who know me, know I am anything but, because the issue is so important to me I speak from passion and also a deep hurt. 

I know that Maybelline have released makeup for darker skin tones like Dream Matte Mousse and Satin foundation but I've noticed lately they have reduced the amount of shades in their new releases, they have not released a dark skin foundation for about 4 years now. 

Maybelline was just picked on because I was particularly angry at the fact they used a Black British model to sell a product that black women could not buy in the U.K

Other brands are actually far far worse than Maybelline in terms of product range and advertising. 

So my issue is not with Maybelline but the high street/ drugstore ignorance of ethnic women. 

 Telegraph 

Telegraph 

As a beauty blogger I have taken a huge risk by criticising a major brand but I was just sick and tired of the fact that an issue that bothered me 10 years ago is still a serious problem. 

I hope that my articles actually achieve something but sadly I am not holding my breath. I hope to see change but history has proven otherwise. 

I never accused Maybelline of Racism

Not once in my post or subsequent articles did I say maybelline was being racist. However on a certain article it was made out that I was accusing them of racism which is not true. 

What happens is when you speak out and say "hey, maybe there is an issue here" certain groups of people (daily mail commenters) throw up their arms in anger and want you to shut up, derailing the whole conversation.  So I deliberately chose not to use the words racist because the accused then gets defensive and nothing actually changes. I accused them of ignoring women of colour, that is not the same things. So maybelline is not racist, I don't think they go out of their way to say we won't cater to black women because as we can see from their product releases that's just not true, but they are ignorant, and that is a symptom of society as a whole and we as citizens of the world have to confront the ugly truth of our social structures and continually try to do more. 

Like I said in my articles, I am happy Maybelline actually listened and said they would offer Jourdan's shade. I am a little saddened that Maybelline has completely ignored me and has not responded to any of my tweets and messages. Even a simple canned response would be at least something. 

I just wanted to add that and explain things a little further. 

 




Why Is Maybelline Ignoring Women of Colour?

Last week Maybelline US announced that Tanzanian born model Herieth Paul had been signed as the new face of their brand. A gorgeous dark skinned model with short natural hair, she represents a different type of beauty than the typical cookie-cutter eurocentric features we see, a good sign of progress, what's not to like? 

However, last night I  noticed this ad on my digital copy of Essence magazine featuring another Maybelline ambassador; British model Jourdan Dunn. 

maybelline  dream velvet matte

It's a typical maybelline advert telling you you about the benefits of their products , except I noticed the product looked familiar and that was because I had seen this advert on TV a few days ago :

Now, I am an absolute product junkie; no lie,  I spend so much on beauty products it makes my debit card cry,  I am a cosmetics company's  dream because advertising tends to works on me. 

So after seeing the Jourdan advert online and the commercial as I usually do, I researched it. I  searched for it first on boots.com and I saw the choice of shades; Nude, sun beige, Ivory, Beige, Fawn and Natural Ivory, basically all white people shades. In fact they understand that white people have various types of shades and variety in skin tone they gave the same names twice. 

A little disheartened I went on the official maybelline website to confirm what the actual shades available in the U.K  because sometimes boots also like to ignore women of colour and not carry certain shades. Of course the same 6 shades were available.

Here is a screenshot:

maybelline

And the screenshot from the US site 

This is the same  product, same formulation, same description  but in the United states they have twice as many shades. 

Even though I am annoyed  by this I am not surprised, this is an issue that plagues any woman who is not white. Getting anything to suit your skin tone from global beauty brands is almost impossible.  

I like so many other black women have to buy high end foundations and concealer because billion dollar beauty corporations simply don't cater for us. They always make the same  excuses saying there is no market for the product which is just not true. There is a huge population of black women in the United Kingdom.

Maybelline, L'oreal, Rimmel, Max Factor and any other drugstore brand  do we not have skin? Don't we also need makeup? Not everyone can afford to or have to be subjected to spending over £20 on foundation. 

Maybelline has taken a Black British woman and used her in their adverts to sell products but Jourdan couldn't walk into boots or super drug and buy the same product she is advertising.

 

It is sad because I buy maybelline and other drugstore brands regularly. Their mascaras are amazing but they are still not catering to a huge and hungry market and we are still having this discussion in 2016