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.