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ASOS Exposed to Media Backlash After Foundation Race Scandal


It’s fair to say that ASOS holds a special place in every British girl’s heart. Whether you’re in a mad dash in need of next day delivery or after some major retail therapy, this trusty retailer has you covered.

However, the company has recently undergone major scrutiny for its latest release of Maybelline’s new ‘Fit Me’ liquid foundations, on which the promotional photographs showcase a series of fair skinned foundations swatched on a black model’s arm. This created quite the stir on social media, as people took to Twitter and Facebook accusing the retailer of objectifying the model’s ‘blackness’ and reducing her to a mere ‘prop’ to show off the products for white skin.


Ironically the ‘Fit Me’ foundation boasts an extensive range of over 25 different shades and tones promising your ‘perfect foundation fit’, yet the advertised ‘perfect match’ is lost in the complete mismatch to the model’s mahogany skin tone. Twitter user @peatreebojangles mocked the campaign commenting “hey! black ppl! u don’t need to wear this foundation, but we will use u as a measure of others lightness!”. Other users @BeLikeAudrey remarked that the photographs were “not okay!” and @Varaidzo implored both ASOS and Maybelline to “do better”.

Source: Twitter

Whereas Maybelline has recently denied all knowledge and connection to the advertisement of their product, ASOS has released a statement commenting they did not wish to “cause offence” although an official apology has not been announced. Many have also dubbed the social media backlash an “overreaction”, as @k2828 describes the retailer’s situation as “damned if you do, damned if you don’t!” and that “there has to be a colour contrast to see the tones”.

The whole controversy appears quite reminiscent of last month’s Urban Decay Razor Sharp scandal, that showcased a new range of Razor Sharp liquid eyeliners swatched on the underside of a model’s wrist. Due to the violent nature of the product name and the precarious positioning of the swatches across the major arteries, Urban Decay have been accused of “glorifying self-harm” and “using the emotionality of self-mutilation as a topic to cause hype around the product”. Urban Decay has since then removed the pictures and released an official apology stating “it in no way intended to reference self-harm”.


Regardless of whichever side of the fence you fall regarding these controversial campaigns, both instances raise the question as to whether, as a tolerant community, we have become ‘over- sensitised’ to such issues. Perhaps the endless resource of social media has in fact hindered our ability to distinguish the trivial from the true ‘hate crime’?

Nonetheless, the sad fact remains that in sales and media nothing spreads word like controversy.

The aim for many franchise giants out there like Urban Decay and ASOS is to simply generate profit, and in the dog eat dog world of retail “there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”.

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