Minority representation must grow in beauty and entertainment industries

April 1, 2018 — by Selena Liu

When Tarte Cosmetics released its new foundation set in January, makeup users were furious because less than a quarter of the shades were suitable for people of color.

Even though the cosmetics line hurriedly apologized, stating that they “made the decision to [release the foundation] before all the shades were ready to go,” the incident still represents the discrimination in the beauty industry against people with darker skin tones.

Alisha Acquaye from Teen Vogue notes that this pattern of subtle racism in the beauty industry is problematic because it “perpetuates the idea that dark skin tones are abnormal, complicated and burdensome, thus difficult to include.”

To change this discrimination, cosmetic brands must be more inclusive with their products.

In the makeup and fashion industry, products have historically been geared to a predominantly white audience. This is because primarily white models and actresses have been shown on television until the middle of the 20th century. In fact, according to Becca Endicott from StyleCaster Newsletter, black women did not walk the runways until the mid-1960s, when models like Pat Cleveland and Grace Jones first broke the ice. Even then, a runway show might have featured one black woman to every 30 white women.

Compared to 50 years ago, the beauty industry is being more inclusive in attempts at racial diversity. For example, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is the new face of Lancôme, and Colombian American model Sofia Vergara is a representative for CoverGirl Magazine. Runways broadcast on public television, like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, also have models representing ethnicities from all over the world.

Still, many problems with diversity exist, especially outside the beauty industry. For example, Hollywood and the movie industry have often been criticized for whitewashing their casts, even when many movies they produce are adaptations of stories originally from other countries. But recently, the movie “Black Panther” has received praise for its almost entirely African-American cast and its exceptional storyline. More black representation, exemplified by “Black Panther,” needs to happen in both the entertainment and beauty industries.

Considering the influence the beauty and film industries have on young people, aiming for more diversity in skin products and movies would help decrease the amount of racial discrimination in America and gradually make the U.S. a more inclusive country.

 

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