Socially Conscious Consumerism
| I wrote this post back in January…
…and at the time, I was concerned about posting it. It is opinion, loud, and controversial. And really, I like to keep things very positive here. But in light of the recent issues with Revolve, it is (unfortanately), just as important today as it was 9 months ago.
If you are in, around or near the fashion world of Instagram, you most likely have heard about, read about, commented about, spoke to your mom, sister and girlfriends about what I call the "Great Revolve Diversity Controversy (RDC, for short) of 2018". If you are not familiar, Revolve is a fashion brand that instead of using traditional editorial marketing campaigns, employ mega fashion + style influencers by flying them all over the world wearing their clothing and posting about it on social media. They call these trips Revolve Around the World trips. They also partner with charitable organizations, other brands, etc on campaigns. Personally, I think it's a genius marketing tactic, as so much of the millennial generation is swayed by fashion and style bloggers. All sounds fine and good, except that most all (if not every) one of these #revolvearoundtheworld trips are seemingly intentionally non-inclusive. The most controversial trip to Phuket, Thailand was exceptionally beige, with a tiny bit of olive on the side. Even more recently, you may have heard about, read about another Revolve issue in which the brand marketed a sweatshirt with the phrase “Being Fat is not Beautiful. It’s an Excuse”. Though it was supposed to be a empowering non-profit campaign to shed light on the words spoken to successful plus-size women, in reality, it only further solidified that they completely missed the mark and perpetuated the problem of lack of diversity in representation. I will not delve into the details of the controversies (a quick Google search can help you with that), but as hard as we are coming down on Revolve, we have to remember that they are not the first, and most certainly not the last to engage in this type of behavior. Does anyone remember the Abercrombie and Fitch fiascos of the late 00's? When then-CEO Mike Jeffries said things along the lines of "We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that."? Yikes. Luckily, they have since ousted Jeffries and support black bloggers and have black models in their campaigns, but the stigma (at least to me) still remains.
And stepping away from the fashion world for a quick minute, the beauty industry may be the guiltiest of them all. I cannot tell you how many times I have been to a beauty counter and met with the "we don't have anything for your complexion" look. Just a few months ago, Tarte cosmetics launched a brand new foundation (the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation) in 15 shades. Only 3 (but really 2) of them were "workable" for dark skin. 2! OF 15! Beauty Blender launched a new foundation just last month that was equally as shameful in the area of shade range. The beauty influencer community is up in serious arms (check these videos here, here and here) and for all of the right reasons. I'm not going to speculate the reasons for the deliberate exclusion of several races and ethnicities, but from a multi-million dollar brand, this is nothing short of unacceptable. And in the realm of luxury beauty, the ultra lux brand, YSL launched their All Hours Foundation that contains 14 shades, only ONE of which is supposed to work for every dark skinned girl on this earth. Because if you haven't heard, we're all the same shade...
Ok, then. You can keep it.
And before I go on, let's get one thing straight: It is not begging for inclusion to hold brands accountable for demonstrating diversity. Believe me, there are PILES of brands that are increasingly inclusive and I will happily move along to those who do so. But even if it was...can someone explain to me why brands should not be held accountable for comprehensive representation? What is it about demanding inclusion that makes me an overly sensitive cry baby millenial? The 50 shades of fair, stone, bone, sand, tan, etc are ALWAYS included. Always. If 90% of all television channels looked like BET, I have a feeling that those who spend triple digits on sunscreen, may begin to "beg for inclusion"...no?
What is it about my dark skin or thicker thighs that does not demand the same level of respect? Just asking for a friend...
In all of the negative, let's remember that there is something we can do about it. We do not, WILL NOT play victim to this size 4, sand-stone aged (see what I did there!?) ideals of beauty. To brands, the loudest voice we have sits in the form of a small plastic card in our wallet. We take our spending power, our hard earned dollars and spend them where we are represented. It is our social and economic responsibility to consume with purpose. With consciousness. Why would I give my hard-earned, college degree made dollars to a brand that has absolutely no interest in supporting or including people that look like me? It's a simple concept of cause and effect. Practice representation and diversity or you will need to adjust your sales projections. In an increasingly woke society, it is no longer acceptable for brands to practice racial and body exclusivity and they need to be made aware of that fact where it hurts them the most...their bottom lines.
There are so many brands now that are revolving (I am killing the pun game!) around the correct audience, and that audience includes us all. Mainstream fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Aerie, H&M (I know, the monkey thing was a tone-deaf disaster), Levi's and even Express are becoming more and more diverse with every passing campaign. Fenty Beauty launched 40 foundation shades, Lancome, Estee Lauder and Nars all offer complexion products in the 30-40+ shade range and have been in the game for a long time. There are no excuses.
The moral of the story is to support brands that support you. Period. Whether that be plus size influencers, POC-owned brands, brands that support smaller influencers, LGBTQ influencers, etc. The definition of beauty is no longer 5'9", light skinned and rail thin.
Support Loudly. Love Loudly. Live Loudly.