Beauty

The politics of beauty

The rise of social media has seen an increase in diversity within the beauty industry however it has also seen the rise of a new generation of cultural appropriation
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The rise of social media has seen an increase in diversity within the beauty industry however it has also seen the rise of a new generation of cultural appropriation

“When I first launched my foundation range, it was important to me that we catered for different skin tones,” said Rihanna, speaking at her Fenty Beauty talk in Dubai last year. “My mom is darker than me, and I could never have a foundation range that didn’t cater for her,” she explained. It’s a strategy which has no doubt paid off, launching with 40 shades in 2017, the brand now carries 50 different tones, and led to something which is now known as the ‘Fenty Effect’ - a standard within the industry for credible makeup lines to carry a minimum of 40 shades.


It something that a short while ago however, was not imaginable in the wider fashion and beauty industries. “The only black models I remember growing up were Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks,” says Brittainy Lynn, founder of The Dope Cactus an agency which specialises in diverse branding and social media management. “However, thankfully, now there are many more,” Lynn says. Indeed, this January saw 39 black models take to the catwalk at the Valentino Spring/Summer 2019 Couture show in Paris. Naomi Campbell explained in her YouTube series Being Naomi, how powerful the moment was for her: “it was more than a fashion show to me. I cried because I was so overwhelmed and happy. When I looked up and saw the girls above me, it just seemed like yes - these almost 33 years in the industry, it has been worth it to speak up.” Moreover, it’s a revolution which seems to now be impacting other industries. Earlier this year the Business of Fashion reported that the ‘Fenty Effect’ had arrived in skincare industry too, with a slew of brands now aiming to cater for diverse types of skin.

To read the full story, pick up the May edition of L'Officiel Arabia. 

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