I know that’s a bit of a laboured reference in the title, but come on that’s such a damn good song and I fear it has been forgotten in this modern day… Anyway! Let’s talk about Fenty because, at LAST, we are finally being shown the power of products that cater to people of all different skin tones. Now Fenty wasn’t the first to do this and I’ve linked a fantastic article down below that gives a history of pioneering black owned makeup brands. But what Fenty has made bleakly obvious is that even in 2019, we still needed a massive celebrity push to get people to remember that darker skin tones exist.
Fenty launched with 40 shades and that represents the whole aim of the brand. As it is says on the website – ‘Beauty for all. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna was created with promise of inclusion for all women’. These span right from the palest white to the most melanin-infused dark skin, and there is an even spread across the line. So often when brands have 20 or so shades, about 15 of which are numerous shades of white (it impresses me how creative brands are with names for numerous shades of basically the same foundation), and then the final 5 cover everyone from my shade to mildly dark-skinned people. In fact, up until about two years ago, I was the darkest shade in about half the drugstore foundations, and the vast majority of high-end cosmetics. I will never forget being backstage at my first big show, and all the makeup artists pulling out the cult ‘Soleil Tan De Chanel – Bronze Universel’. Now this ‘universal’ bronzer is not even my skin tone, and for most POC would be more of a highlight than a bronzer.
Just for a quick little rant for a moment – why on earth is this called ‘universal Bronze’? Because I cannot find a single thing about the product that is universal at all. It highlights – along with a lot of products that are ‘flexi-tone’, ‘colour-adjusting, ‘universally flattering’ – this disgusting problem in the industry. ‘Universal’ basically doesn’t include the majority of the world’s population. Yet it is still described as such, the people behind the products clearly under some delusion that ‘everyone’ doesn’t include so many people of colour. Watch the iconic Nyman Tang’s recent video trying to find a bronzer in Sephora (linked below). It’s still almost impossible to do unless you go to BOMBs (black-owned makeup brands). The language that surrounds the industry is one that actively, and apparently comfortably, excludes so many people of colour.
BUT, perhaps there is hope. With the launch of Fenty, the industry saw many brands increasing their shade ranges (Covergirl, Dior, Maybelline, Marc Jacobs). And now that big stores like Boots are stocking brands like Fenty, anyone can now go into a standard drugstore found almost everywhere across the UK and find something for them. I find it depressing when I go up to brands and can’t seem to find anything that matches (and I’m not all that dark and can normally find something) so I can’t imagine how demoralising it is for people much darker than me. Things will change as people like Rihanna keep pushing for inclusion in the industry.
However, we must remember it cannot be down to a few celebrity endorsements to get companies to change their ways. POCs should be represented in all brands; Chanel, Dior, Guerlain don’t get a free pass because they’re older more established brands. We should be able to enjoy makeup from old and new brands alike, because (shocker!!) POCs have been around just a bit longer than even the oldest of cosmetic brands…
In the meanwhile though, I will continue enjoying all things Fenty and try not to keep losing that divine lip gloss!!
“Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” – Jesse Jackson