Are UK high streets welcoming to women of colour?
‘‘When I see high street make-up brands selectively marketing some of their products (e.g. foundation) to a wide range of ethnicities but not others (such as BB creams, concealers etc), it does not mean that I choose to ignore the progress the UK cosmetic industry has made to accommodate our now ‘multicultural Britain’. It means I also acknowledge that we are far from the finish line.’’
I want to encourage women of ALL races to speak up on an issue we’ve been silent on for too long – there’s no harm expecting you to be knowledgeable about matters that don’t directly affect you, at least it stops you from forming opinions based on ignorance.
As a Black British woman, I’m tired of walking down the cosmetic aisles in Boots or Superdrug and feeling grateful that out of the dozens of high-street make up brands there are one or two that a. consider ethnic minorities in their product range at all b. Have testers for darker skin tones in stock (so I’m not left buying in blind faith).
Since I started wearing make-up (so just over a decade ago), the changes to the landscape of the cosmetic high-street industry such as the inclusion of products for women of colour by some brands (e.g. Sleek, B. and Revlon) are admirable. Brands have the right to cater to whoever they see fit. Hence why some cosmetic brands on the high street only cater to white women, but why haven’t brands that only cater to women of colour (and yes they do exist) been shown this same hospitality and encouragement? Doesn’t the introduction of cosmetic products for ethnic minorities in Boots and Superdrug’s own lines (No7 and B.) show that they are well aware of the demand? It seems that I’m only considered on the high street when products for me are sold alongside my white peers – I say this not out of resentment but as a fact. Don’t even get me started on the use of controversial slogans like ‘Get the London Look’. It is wrong to use such a statement to advertise your products KNOWING that London is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. Especially, if Rimmel refuses to step into the 21st century by acknowledging the multi-cultural society we live in today, and subsequently catering to ALL the ethnicities that live in London. When the UK has embraced its multiculturalism through the celebration of religious events and festivities such as Diwali and Notting Hill Carnival, why should I continue to pardon the high street cosmetic industry for being so backwards?
The high street should cater to every beauty fanatic whether she’s Black or Asian or every colour of the rainbow!
It’s imperative for individuals to set their own standards of beauty, but how are we meant to encourage individuals to set their own standards and celebrate their uniqueness, if we don’t expose them to diversity? Take the up and coming model with vitiligo – Winnie Harlow, for example. In my opinion it is ABOUT TIIIIME that women who are ‘different’ are also celebrated, and from the hype surrounding her others seem to agree. However, my question still remains why has it taken us this long to celebrate her (amongst many others), being different? Why isn’t diversity embraced from the start?
So L’Oreal UK if you continue to use ethnic minorities in your advertising campaigns but fail to be consistent in the products that you market to them- expect me to challenge you, because I believe we are worth it too. As for you Rimmel, either wake up and realise that ethnic minorities are part of the 21st century’s ‘London Look’ or change your slogan. With this in mind, I am urging readers to sign this petition to encourage popular high street cosmetic brands to embrace change. In the hope that the rest of the high street will quickly follow suit and learn to accommodate diversity.