When Lipstick Becomes Racial

TO: My Beloved Readers,

A Mac lipstick photo has sparked controversy. The above photo is a photo from Fashion Week that the cosmetic company released via instagram.
The photo features a dark skinned model   with extremely full protruding lips wearing black lipstick. The photo received 30, 000 comments encompassing a wide range of opinions either disliking the photo or embracing it. I found the photo somewhat offensive.  It’s not that the lips are full, but the image is reminiscent of when white actors wore blackface. That’s the image that it triggered in my mind.

 Some Caucasian women distanced themselves from the company claiming the photo did not reflect  their racial demographic. With no racial animus implied. clearly the photo did not reflect people who are white.

What was Mac’s intention?  Was it a tribute to the darkest spectrum of skin color ? A tribute to the fullest extent of the human lip during Black History Month? Or was it an example of a big conglomerate who derives a substantial amount of income from racial groups about which it  knows little? A third cynical  option is that the photo got people talking about MAC makeup.

M.A.C. has long courted
various ethnic groups, including black Americans, and Estée Lauder sees the
brand as the key to unlocking growth in emerging markets.
M.A.C. is already the
best-selling high-end makeup in Brazil, India, South Africa, and Turkey,
according to the company. The brand’s tony stores are a revelation in nations
such as Nigeria, where Western-style retailers are so scarce that wealthy
shoppers must go abroad to purchase many upmarket brands. Once M.A.C. has a
foothold in a market, Estée Lauder sends in its other brands, such as Clinique
and Aveda. “The biggest play for the corporation, period, in terms of market
development today, is the M.A.C. brand,” says Group President John Demsey. “It
is the singular biggest source of growth for the company.”

In the past, Mac has apologized when creating lipstick products targeted to the Hispanic community using names like “Juarez”, however Mac has made no comment or apology, but posted that their product was  for all races, all skins and all sexes.
What do you think? Is the photo a positive image of black beauty or a thinly veiled insult?


Brianna Clark
The Addict Writes.

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