It’s 2017, and you’d like to think we’ve come a long way, I mean many islands of the Caribbean have already celebrated yet another year of their independence!
However we then look at the beauty industry and realize our subtle isolation. You see this year many beauty campaigns have shown us that a problem still exists in society when it comes to colourism and privilege…
The Caribbean’s most prominent demographics are people of African and Indian descent. We are a large market willing to belong, but it’s difficult to feel accepted in the makeup industry when we struggle to find shades that suit our tanned to deeper skin tones.
L’Oreal is a perfect example of how we are used for capitalist gain but problems we face are not cared about. Transgender model Munroe Bergdorf was fired from the L’Oreal initiative, due to comments she made in the wake of the events in Charlottesville’s. She had said – “Most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour”. People in the Caribbean would understand what Munroe meant. Our history is one of genocide, enslavement and indentureship due to colonialisation. For L’Oreal to pride themselves on being a brand that is about equality for everyone, it is contradictory to not defend a person who is speaking out on exactly what they claim to be against. It is clear that they want us to buy their products but don’t want acknowledge the truth about what the western world did to our ancestors.
September may have marked the ending of an era in the beauty community in which our diaspora goes unrepresented with the launch of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. The Bajan singer made the Caribbean proud as she released 40 foundation shades, which actually had more melanin pigment. Now other brands want to follow in Rihanna’s footsteps, but this leads me to wonder why it must take a celebrity who hails from the West Indies to show people who have been in the business for years the ropes. I believe it simply boils down to the fact that white supremacy exists and so they are willing to perfect formulas for their own people but for other people that look different to them that would be going out of their depths.
Makeup is supposed to be something fun and artistic, in order for this creative outlet to fulfil its purpose, we need more diversity and inclusion and we need to deconstruct the dynamics of a global society that sees European facial features as the beauty standard and so consequently does not put effort into providing for people who don’t fit that category.
By: Kadisha Thomas