So yesterday on ITV’s This Morning, singer Jamelia was investigating the lack of black make-up in the UK high street shops. Jamelia said local stores are not stocking the full range of shades for black skin, especially well known high street retailers. Determined to tackle this issue, Jamelia has confronted leading high street retailers to ask why they don’t stock products for black people in some of their stores.
As much as I love Jamelia and always enjoy her bold freedom of expression, I have to disagree with her on this one. I have never experienced the problem that Jamelia is talking about. I have always bought my make up from high-street retailers and my shade is always there, though they are not many shades for black women.
I do not believe that this has anything to do with discrimination against black women. The majority of people in this country are white. When I walk into any major high street shop at any time, there are always more white people than black people. So most people who are buying the make-up in these major shops are white. The retailers feel that they can not invest in a lot of shades of make-up for a minority group, at the end of the day they want their products to sell.
In Africa, especially Zimbabwe, one of the most popular make-up brand is called Black Opal and is designed for black women. There are tones of shades of make up of this brand and in all fairness if you walk in a beauty shop in Zimbabwe you will not find many shades for white women. The country is dominated by black people hence more black make-up in shops. You do not see white women in Africa complaining that they are being discriminated against in the make-up industry. They are doing very well without the many shades of make up and they still look as beautiful as the white women in the west.
Here in UK, I find that there are just three to four shades of make-up for black women in major high street shops, yet amazingly most black skin tones will suit those few shades. If anything I find this as a positive thing and a complement for black women, not discrimination. It clearly tells me that black women’s skin is beautiful that we do not need many varieties of make-up to enhance our beauty.
Again I go back to the point I always try to project in my writings, as black women we need to stop complaining about almost everything. We need to stop seeing ourselves as victims even in beauty. Our beauty is one of our most unique attributes; the full lips, defined facial features and no amount of make-up can ever change what we have.
For those black women who feel discriminated in the beauty industry, why can’t you fix the problem by designing more black make-up? If major high street retailers won’t sell the black make-up, what is stopping you from opening your own major outlets that only targets black skin? Why should the white make-up industry do that for you?
That said, I truly admire Alicia Keys for her stance on no make-up. I think what she is doing is very important as she has helped to create a balance on what natural beauty is. Society has redefined the meaning of beauty. Women do not feel confident in their natural beauty anymore, we always feel the need to “cover up” each time we step out of the house. These days with more and more make-up being invented, and the use of social media to market it, I find the whole thing getting more ridiculous by the day.
I thought make-up was meant to enhance our natural beauty, not to completely change the way we look. Today, there are frenzy of tutorials on social media called “contouring” where women are redefining their facial features. With this trendy new way of make-up, women are completely transformed to the point of being unrecognizable.
I think make-up is a wonderful gift to women’s beauty, but like Cheryl Tweedy once sang, too much of anything can be a curse. Make-up is now taking away our beauty. I also find it interesting that most men prefer women in less make-up or no make-up at all.
I love make-up, but I try to keep it as close to natural as possible. No black woman has ever looked less beautiful because she could not find her make-up shade in a high street shop. We have the most beautiful skin tones, some call it the melanin power, and I think on a positive note what the major high street retailers are trying to tell us is: Black women do not need that much make-up because we are naturally beautiful.