A new day, a new beauty brand sucked into the wormhole of cultural appropriation. Over the weekend, Fenty Beauty caused an uproar naming one of their latest highlighters “Geisha Chic,” with online beauty fanatics and whistleblowers alike (specifically the anonymous beauty watchdog Estee Laundry) doing the unthinkable: banning against Rihanna’s beloved, revolutionary “inclusive” brand.
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UPDATE 🚨🚨 Hey Loves, Due to the feedback on this post @fentybeauty has decided to completely remove this shade from online and in stores until further notice. We will keep u updated! We appreciate Fenty Beauty’s responsiveness to this matter and applaud the continuous evolution of this amazing beauty community 💗🙏🏼 . . . More….. 👀🙀💗❤️ #fentybeauty Keep it cute and sweet in #KILLAWATTFOIL in #GEISHACHIC! NEW metallic brick red ✨ . . It’s going to be a HOT🔥 #Summer2019 ☀️✨ Also dropping: 1. #BRONZERS ✨😍 #SUNSTALKRBRONZER – gives instant warmth that brings out the right undertones for a sun-soaked glow! This creamy, powder bronzer. that are blendable and transfer resistant in 8 shades, Instant Warmth Bronzer $30 each: MOCHA MAMI – very del shade with warm red undertones COCO NAUGHTY – deep shade with neutral undertones CARAMEL CUTIE – tan to deep shade neutral undertones BAJAN GYAL – tan shade with warm undertones I$LAND TING – Medium shade with neutral undertones PRIVATE ISLAND – Light to medium shade with warm undertones SHADY BIZ – Light shade with warm undertones INDA SUN – fair shade with neutral undertones 2. SCULPTING BRONZER BRUSH 195 $34 – A tapered bronzer brush with a custom paw shape designed to contour the face with effortless precision. 3. CHEEK-HUGGING BRONZER BRUSH 190 $36 – An extra large, super plush bronzer brush that’s expertly chiseled to “hug” the curves of your face for an all-over bronze glow. 4. LIL BRONZE DUO Mini Bronzer Set $24 featuring a mini Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer and a mini Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick. In SHADY BIZ/SINAMON (for light – Medium skin tones) CARAMEL CUTIE/SINAMON (For tan to deep skin tones) 5. Mini!! PRO FILT'R – Instant Retouch Setting Powder $16 in Butter, Cashew, Honey, Nutmeg . . Will be available ➡️ APRIL 5TH online @fentybeauty @sephora . . There are more…. 👀 What’s on your list? 💛❤️💗✨💧 XO #Trendmood #fenty #fentybeauty THANK U for this beautiful update: @jordy2_shorty @audreypschl 😘 . . #motd #makeupoftheday #mua #ilovemakeup #makeup #makeupaddict #makeuplover #makeupblogger
The controversy caused Fenty Beauty to follow protocol: pull the product from shelves, release a statement of apology, and a vow to “do better next time.” And Riri’s cosmetics brand isn’t the only one who has fallen into the hole of discriminatory behavior: Bellami Hair, Rituals, and Stila have all caught fire for actions we can only describe as ignorant. But, we never truly “cancel” these brands: instead we semi-forgive; forget; wait for the next controversial action of one of our favorite beauty brands; step and repeat.
While the tea is always piping hot, it’s become exhausting to watch some of our favorite brands do the same culturally oblivious mistakes over again. In the age of the “woke” society, shouldn’t these brands, well, be as woke as they claim to be?
Exhibit A: Fenty Beauty. The brand run by Rihanna is always held at the pedestal for doing inclusion the “right” way for their 50+ shade ranges of complexion products and all-inclusive ad campaigns, yet they made a major rookie mistake of fetishizing an aspect of Japanese culture. And with a quick google search, you can find that Rihanna’s appropriative behavior is far from new: she’s gotten heat for appropriating hispanic “Chola” eyebrows, blatantly copying Asian culture in the “Princess of China” music video, and caused a stir for her previous Vogue Arabia cover, which featured her dressed as ancient Egyptian goddess Nefrititi.
Why has it taken us so long to call her out on her inappropriate behavior? Is it because we pick and choose who we’d like to call out, similar—but nearly as drastic—to the way others criticize Harvey Weinstein for his predatory behavior, but give men like Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari some slack (even standing ovations) because they’re “cool” and “funny?” Or is it because we pick and choose which cultures are okay and not okay to appropriate?
I’ll be frank: the way we go about cultural appropriate behavior is bullshit, especially in the beauty community. I get that everyone—even Rihanna herself—slips every now and then, but by now these brands should be hypersensitive to the issue of cultural appropriation and discriminatory behavior. It’s fallen onto us—the consumers, the beauty writers, and the influencers—to keep these brands in check, when in reality they should have the common sense to do it themselves.
The lesson for all beauty brands: check yourself before you wreck yourself.