How to Prove Your Makeup Brand Actually Cares About Diversity

In a perfect world, everyone would be given due credit for their work. Those who have displayed excellence, innovation, and creativity in their fields would get the flowers and accolades they deserve. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and ofttimes black artists and creators, in particular, aren’t given the proper recognition or credit. It’s a phenomenon so common it’s not even surprising when it happens — for many black artists, it’s almost a sad and frustrating fact of existence.

Just ask Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the mother of Rock and Roll. They say being a mom is a thankless job, and it looks like the adage applies here too — unlike her male counterparts, say Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, hers is not a household name. Still, her influence as an originator is there. And it is this influence that was at the forefront of the Pyer Moss Spring 2020 show (arguably the most talked-about event of New York Fashion Week), “Sister.”

“I feel like black women are often erased from things and I wanted to do this specifically for black women,” says creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond of the brand’s latest effort, the third installment of the brand’s “American Also” series of collections, which aim to shed light on the influence of black people in America. “It focuses on reversing the erasure of African-Americans in American society and pop culture. What we do is take things that are stereotypically ‘white’ in America and prove how it’s black.”

Isidore Montag

This same erasure extends to the fashion and beauty worlds, as well. America’s greatest export is its culture, and much of its worldwide appeal stems from its roots in black aesthetics. The world tells us every day: Black shit is cool, but on actual black people, God forbid black women? It’s ugly. Ghetto. Not in line with our branding. Not our target market. Tanned white women with cornrows, big lips, and full rear ends: social media millionaires. Actual, dark-skinned black women with those things: just not our preference. We’re consistently erased from the things we create, and at times it’s so ridiculous it’s hardly believable. I, for one, will never forget the “boxer braids” craze that took over the internet once Kim Kardashian was spied wearing cornrows. All of a sudden, it was the height of fashion to gel down your baby hairs and have your hair in the same braids that were getting black women fired from their jobs across the country.

But this is not to say that there isn’t an effort to change things. Thanks to social media, the voices of marginalized people have been increasingly amplified, and companies are starting to listen, to a certain extent (even if it is just to make some more coin). After all, if black women are moving culture along, then they should be acknowledged as the tastemakers they are and included in the conversation.

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