Finding Our Shade
Robyn Fenty has never been one to let the public rest, if we’re being honest with ourselves. And if we were to examine the rise of celebrity influence in the makeup industry (and the ridiculous amount of money they’re both making), then absolutely none of us should have been surprised when Rihanna announced that she was launching her own makeup line.
What we couldn’t have been ready for, however, was the dialogue that this line initiated. From the genesis of its launch, beauty influencers and ordinary consumers alike have been impressed by the number of shades (forty). In a popular culture where people talk about how important diversity is but never actually follow through, Fenty Beauty was and is a breath of fresh air. Women everywhere, especially women of color, have taken to Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube to sing its praises. From albino to dark-skinned women who had never been able to find their shade among what was offered, many voices that had been overlooked by the beauty industry for years have been brought to light by Rihanna’s debut, forcing the rest of the world, and particularly the beauty industry, to listen.
The buzz around the diversity of Fenty Beauty incited responses from other makeup lines, some using more subtle advertisements showcasing women of color and others more blatantly trying to convince us that they’ve been on the diversity train. Of course, The Internet™ is the ultimate receipt book, and Robyn Fenty herself joined in on the criticism.
Of course, I have to make this about race because it’s applicable. While it is important to note the lack of inclusivity toward people with albinism, there is a far greater trend of women with darker complexions being unable to find their foundation shade, highlighting the racism permeating the beauty industry. Another common complaint by people of color is the ‘ashy’ appearance of many brands’ foundation when applied, which is usually due to incorrect undertones. Skin color falls under three undertones: warm, cool, and neutral. Along with a lack of darker shades, most foundations do not have much undertone variation other than cool beige and neutral beige, which definitely encourages a monolithic interpretation of darker skin. As a woman of color, this didn’t surprise me at all, but it was refreshing to see other people’s surprise toward the lack of choices available to those of a darker complexion, especially when harsher critics of Fenty Beauty were told to try to find their shade in other brands.
The culture of inclusivity has been a staple topic in the conversation of makeup, but it has hardly ever been put into practice. As a long-time and avid consumer of makeup, it’s been a beautiful experience seeing people of all different complexions and backgrounds tell their own stories about their relationship with makeup, specifically foundation. The popularity of Fenty Beauty is a phenomenon that has given visibility to a lot of people normally ignored by the beauty industry. The racial implications of makeup will not be ignored to the same extent any longer.
Cover photo courtesy of: latina.com