The fashion and beauty industries are not really role models for highlighting racial diversity, nor are they known for being particularly sensitive. Often it’s just the opposite.
Dove, whose “Real Beauty” ads earned a lot of kudos for portraying women of all ages, sizes, and colors, came under fire last week for an ad that showed an African American model turning white after benefitting from the Dove VisibleCare Body Wash (that’s how it was perceived anyway). Were people being hypersensitive or did Unilever really eff this one up? Reading the seemingly thousands of posts about the subject, there are good arguments made in both directions–the bottom line is it depends what skin you’re in.
Some 40% of women buying skin care are women of color, and this number is growing. Obviously the message of beauty companies hasn’t caught up with reality yet, though there are small moments where companies seem to be getting a clue. Estée Lauder’s new campaign featuring Joan Smalls, Liu Wen, and Constance Jablonski is a baby step. But will we someday open a magazine that isn’t Essence and see an African American model alone in a fancy skin care ad without two other races to “balance” it out?
Click through to check out some of the ads that caused a lot of controversy recently.