Tonal "for Russians": How The Beauty Industry Supports Colorism

Tonal "for Russians": How The Beauty Industry Supports Colorism
Tonal "for Russians": How The Beauty Industry Supports Colorism

Video: Tonal "for Russians": How The Beauty Industry Supports Colorism

Video: How the beauty industry has devalued black women | Tobi Oredein | TEDxTottenham 2022, November

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A couple of weeks ago, the Instagram community thundered 19-year-old Senegalese model Hoodia Diop, who participated in the viral campaign "The Colored" Girl Project. Now Diop, who runs the Melanin Goddess account, has 346 thousand subscribers. With a lot of professional merits, it was a very dark skin color that launched her career - and this is still a rarity in the modeling business. Meanwhile, betting on skin color is like pointing the finger: “benevolent” and “positive” discrimination is still discrimination. The wild excitement around the model shows that the beauty industry still considers black models to be exotic, with which, of course, it is time to start working somehow. And this is not the only manifestation of colorism that we have encountered over the past year.

The beauty industry often prefers to follow colorism, supporting

and broadcasting these views further

Kanye West is looking for models to show the new collection exclusively among girls of multiracial origin, which causes natural bewilderment, turning into indignation. Marc Jacobs demonstrates hairstyles with dreadlocks, but mostly white girls go to the catwalk with them, for which he also receives reproaches. Hip-hop legend Lil Kim whitens skin, and it sparks outright condemnation and heated debate about what influences beauty standards. All these events seem to be unrelated and occur for different reasons, but they definitely have one thing in common: there is still no consensus on the issues of cultural appropriation, racism and colorism (as well as their differences) in society. So much so that sometimes we can not distinguish where we meet with manifestations of discrimination, and where - with cultural differences.

All of the above news came from the States, where progressive views most clearly encounter the resistance of stereotypes that have not become obsolete. And although colorism, that is, the belief that skin tones are directly related to the social hierarchy even within one ethnic group, knows no boundaries, it is most often encountered in India, the United States, Latin America and partially in Asia (for example, in Korea and China) … This is, of course, primarily a social question, and the beauty industry often prefers to follow the lead, supporting and broadcasting these views further - the circle closes.

The cases of Lil Kim or Michael Jackson, forced to comment on skin color changes in the press, which were caused by far from aesthetic preferences, are also not isolated exceptions, and sometimes the desire to make the skin a little lighter does not even belong to its owner. In 2010, ELLE magazine put Gaburi Sidibé on the cover: the actress's skin after retouching looked several tones lighter. In the case of a girl who actively fought for the right to be recognized as she is, and has repeatedly spoken out about the privilege of white people in Hollywood, this is at least strange. The Korean cosmetic market is flooded with bleaching agents of varying degrees of aggressiveness, because only porcelain skin is considered beautiful. The caste differentiation in India was largely based on skin color, and to this day, Indians with the darkest skin are perceived as people of low social origin and position.

Wearers of fair skin have access to a wide range of social privileges - this consideration makes people consider fair skin beautiful and triggers discrimination mechanisms in the very malleable beauty industry and fashion. This happens so imperceptibly that it reaches the point of absurdity - for example, the Beauty.AI robot, created for judging at an international beauty contest, "unexpectedly" turned out to be a racist.The developers explained this by the fact that in the image database on which the algorithm worked, there were not enough photos of people with different types of appearance.

Last year, Angelica Dass, author of the Humanæ photo project, which showcases the myriad variety of human skin colors, gave a lecture at TED Talks. Angelica herself, who was born in Brazil, calls her family “multicolored” and mentions that for society she was invariably “black”: “When I brought my cousin to school, I was usually mistaken for a nanny. When I helped my friends in the kitchen during a party, people thought I was a servant. I was even mistaken for a prostitute simply because I was walking along the beach with my friends from Europe. " It sounds like a story from the 80s, when Stephen Meisel, in an ultimatum, forced the editorial staff of Vogue to put Naomi Campbell on the cover, but since then we have not gone that far.

The use of stereotypes simplifies the processes of perception - through them we quickly (and often without hesitation) recognize, classify and evaluate phenomena and people - but the world is much more multidimensional, and this is becoming more noticeable every day. In fact, we continue to use outdated analysis tools that do far more harm than good. This also applies to negative discrimination, and the so-called positive, which uses the same standardization - when skin color becomes a factor through which a person gains any advantage. In a global world, where it seems that everyone can achieve success, using exclusively their unique abilities, this is a big hindrance.

Wherever there is a place for classification, ratings and preferences will definitely appear - including in the matter of appearance. We are already accustomed to the fact that the very concept of beauty today (yesterday, the day before yesterday and for many years to come) is determined by a certain narrow set of standards and in this it comes into contact with no longer comic social diseases: discrimination based on age, weight and, of course, skin color … The most vivid example is the state of affairs in the United States, although many steps have been taken to overcome this state of affairs since the 60s of the last century, but victory is still far away. In other countries and communities, colorism, open or not, also makes itself felt and is most often perceived as something so natural that it never occurs to anyone to fight it.

Meanwhile, all areas related to sales, one way or another, rely on public inquiry - this, for example, is the reason that really dark tonal means are not sold in countries whose "officials" are represented exclusively by light-skinned people. Such products cannot be found in the mass market, which is forced to sell and produce very large volumes. In the United States today, there are small brands focused mostly on clients with dark skin - for example, Magnolia Makeup or Vault Cosmetics, but in Russia and Europe you will have to look for what you need and suitable in the corners of professional cosmetics, and not everything gets there. For the same reasons.

People whose appearance does not meet "national standards"

basically out of sight

as a small minority

For the same reason, it is easier to hire a model with a "European appearance" for shooting or showing: not all professionals have mastered the art of working with the skin and hair of people of African descent, this type of appearance among makeup artists is classified as "difficult". Meanwhile, all kinds of beauty and fashion publications are still responsible for our ideas about beauty, no matter how massively the interested public emigrates to the Internet. It turns out that people whose appearance does not correspond to certain "national standards" are, in principle, excluded from the field of visibility as a certain insignificant minority - and this is not at all the case.

In Russia, the problem of colorism is rather a part of more complex systemic problems, so a conversation about such a particular can hardly cause a great response. At the same time, there are many examples of discrimination based on external features. For example, the Garnier brand, whose cans are on the shelves of almost everyone, added a very light shade to the palette of the famous BB-cream, which was positioned in the print campaign as a tool “for Russian girls”. As the advertising text explains, 50% of Russian women surveyed have such fair skin.

Meanwhile, one should not forget that Russia is a multicultural state, we have a lot of girls of completely different origins and appearance, which cosmetics manufacturers often do not notice. Because as soon as it comes to talking about the average Russian, a spontaneous “Russian march” often begins: attacks on the insufficiently Slavic origin of the winner of the Miss Russia 2013 contest, the invariable demands of “Slavic appearance” for filming an advertisement for curd, “innocent” nationalistic the demands of many employers are our boring reality.

Yes, thanks to social media, activists, bloggers and artists, it has become easier to express your opinion and demonstrate alternative views on how the world works, and in particular on what beauty is. At least, we trust self-proclaimed beauty gurus more precisely because they bring more real ideas to the world, talk about real problems and are similar to us: there are many of them, they live in different countries and do not lend themselves to stereotyping based on basic characteristics., including skin color. It is not known whether the large industry will continue to respond to these sentiments properly, but one can still hope for this: what for a long time remained a “minority” for it is in fact a huge part of the audience that has the right to declare itself not only on instagram.

The photo: Glossier / Facebook

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