Yesterday, I took part in #blackouttuesday by posting an empty black square on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter instead of producing any content (at all) to support the #blacklivesmatter movement. There’s a lot of conversation around whether this was the right thing to do but at the time, along with thousands and thousands of others, it felt like the only thing to do to add my voice in condemning current events. I even feel nervous to make this post because by trying to do right, you can easily do wrong.
What’s really clear though is that a one-off statement isn’t what’s needed. It’s an on-going commitment for everyone to be observational and notice when things don’t stack up equally. In beauty world, you’ll find things almost never stack up that way and an easy way to see it is to look at the board. If the top level employees don’t reflect a good representation, then all the words in the world from brands don’t change the imbalance. Beauty is my working world and it’s the place I’m most likely to see lack of representation – and I do. And have done for years. I can use this platform to make it easier for anyone reading to see it too. So, look at the board. Almost all beauty brands, with a quick Google, will reveal what their executive level looks like, so pick your favourite brands and click on search to discover that disparity is obvious – blatant, even. It’s a shock.
Where you go from there is up to you – but you can’t un-see it once your eyes have found it and awareness is a strong motivator towards change. If the board doesn’t mirror the real world, something is very wrong.
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I (a white person, FYI) think you’re doing the right thing. The black out (with the tag “blackouttuesday” not “blacklivesmatter”) is about taking a stand that the race crisis is bigger than selfies, brands, beauty products etc. We should still be actively posting information and resources designed to dismantle the problem and support the people who fall victim to it. You’re expertise and audience is about beauty, so it makes total sense for you to focus on information and resources about race inequality in that sphere. I never thought to check out the Board behind a beauty brand before this post. Now I will, and it will influence my voice and how I spend my money. Thank you.
Thank you x
Jane, I am appalled at the state of the world at the moment and I’m ashamed it has taken me this long to make this pledge but I will not be buying anything, anything at all, from brands who do not fully support Black people and put their money where their mouth is. All very well and good spouting #BLM but until they start hiring Black people on their boards, having Black people feature in their PR, creating FULLY inclusive shade ranges, they will not be getting my money. It’s on me to educate myself and find which brands to start supporting and which are problematic. I cannot in good conscience contribute to the problem, I have to do something.
I know, it’s very troubling. I think you, as a consumer, can ask difficult questions of brands you love – email them, find them on social – ask them about representation, check out their board. Not buying is problematic on its own because of the production chain and who, if done en masse, that might affect, but ask, ask and ask until you get answers you feel satisfied with.
Thank you Jane for that perspective, I definitely need further education on the best way to be an ally and I am seeking it out x
Being open to learning is such a positive approach 🙂
Thank you for taking part in #blackouttuesday and supporting #blacklivesmatter. I am a white woman, married to a black man, with a mixed race child in the UK. My husband grew up in the UK and works in the entertainment industry here and can tell many stories about the colour of his skin being held against him. For instance, he auditioned to present a Disney show in the UK but was told by the US executive representing Burbank, that they were looking for someone, “a bit more blond.” It was the 1990’s, so not that long ago. My husband, who is a right wit, replied, “I can do blond” !!!. BTW a British producer did eventually get him on one of the shows a few years later. The problem is real and needs to change. I don’t want my son to face these problems as he grows up. Emma x
It’s so unfair Emma – I’m sorry that’s been your experience. Nobody should have to deal with that.