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Makeup Brands Are Getting Heat for Racial Insensitivity

Makeup has been yet another subject of controversy. Last year, we had the Cosmo scandal (check out my article on it), and this year, the trend has apparently continued. This time, not one but two makeup brands have been accused of racism.

The first brand, Colour Pop, has been called out for using racist slurs for the names of different shades in their contour stick line. The lighter shade’s names include “Illumaniti,” “Castle,” and “Venice.” The darker contour sticks had names such as “Yikes,” “Dume,” and “Type.” According to Urban Dictionary, dume is defined as “the act of being stupid…not able to send a legible text message or electronic message by misspelling even the simplest words.” 

Users on social media were quick to voice their outrage at the company, leading Colour Pop to issue an apology and change the names of the shades.

The second incident involves the brand Kat Von D, which began when Von D herself posted an Instagram picture of her posing with her team.

Once again, critics on social media were quick to point out the lack of diversity in the picture, prompting Kat to respond: “We have American, Canadian, Dutch, Mexican, Australian, and Argentinian? Not sure what is lacking in ‘diversity’ here.” The issue people had, however, seemed to be with the lack of range in skin tone.

This issue only led to a second one. Kat Von D foundation seems to have an extremely broad range of shades for lighter skin, with a significantly smaller range available for darker skin. The Instagram photo below clearly shows this, and many people have identified the discrepancy.

It seems to me that this wasn’t likely an intentional case of racial bias, rather a subconscious byproduct of having a makeup team that lacks diversity in skin tone.

Here’s what’s interesting, however—there are many women of color who create makeup, and who lead makeup brands. It seems as though there wasn’t a single person at Colour Pop or Kat Von D to raise the company’s attention to products that might not sit well with people of color. Whether the racial bias was intentional or not, the ultimate question is how they didn’t perceive that they might receive negative feedback.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Irina Kovari

U Mass Amherst

I'm a senior marketing major at UMass, with a passion for writing and equal rights. I'm on MASSPIRG at UMass, drink too much caffeine, and eat too much chocolate.
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