How Fenty Beauty Is Leading the Inclusion Conversation for Black Women
And doing so while making us look FABULOUS.
Rihanna proves that Fenty Beauty is deeper than just makeup. "The new generation of beauty" is redefining the way in which women of color are represented in popular culture, and also revolutionizing the consumer experience for women with darker complexions. Fenty Beauty's mass success can easily be measured in sales, but it's the 29-year-old pop icon's vision of inclusion that's challenging the outdated ideals of beauty in media as we know it.
Fenty Beauty beautifully encompasses today's millennial woman in the most unapologetic, disruptive way possible. This is huge for the average girl who thinks her lips are too big to rock a bold red lipstick, or for the girl who tirelessly searches to find the perfect shade to match her deep-dark complexion. We all look to trends to help us decide what's hot and what to purchase, but in beauty, what happens when the brands you patronize don't celebrate or even acknowledge women with bold ethnic features like yourself, or women with kinky hair like yourself, or women who wear a hijab like yourself?
The beauty industry is a space historically dictated by a standard of "perfection," one that is viewed by many as unrealistic and unattainable. To make matters worse, imagine never being able to readily find makeup or cosmetics that match your skin tone, just because it's deeper than "dark tan." Welcome to a struggle that many black women know all too well.
Fenty gives us images that celebrate every woman, but most importantly those with dark skin, freckles, bold features, and textured hair that would otherwise never be seen. This is the moment that all black women have been waiting for—a brand that celebrates and embraces our beauty, propagating images that allow us to look in the mirror everyday and be confident in knowing that the world sees our true beauty.
While a few high-end cosmetic brands have done their due diligence by expanding their foundation shade offerings (most notably Make Up For Ever, NARS and Lancôme), if you're not prepared to drop $50 on a one ounce bottle of foundation, finding a wide array of shades at a fair price point was virtually out of the question before Fenty Beauty launched in early September. The brand offers 40 shades of its Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, with every shade from paisley, pale light to deep, dark brown. At $34 for 1.08 ounces, Pro Filt'r sits at a cozy price point right in between drugstore and high-end.
Black women finally have a brand that we can believe in because it was crafted with all of our uniquely beautiful tones in mind, but our love for Fenty runs much deeper than lipgloss and highlighter. The first look at Fenty Beauty was released only 7 days before the actual launch of the brand with a trailer highlighting women of all shades and ethnicities. Most notably featured were Australian-born Sudanese model Duckie Thot, African American model/influencer Slick Woods and Somali-American model Halima Aden, all recognized for their vastly unique features.
In the guerilla-style video, we see the Fenty girls fiercely navigating the streets of a busy urban city, all serving strikingly appealing looks. With their glossy lips accentuated, we eventually see the women holding what will come to be known as Gloss Bomb, one of the brand's hero products. What's so amazing about the simplicity of the video, though, is the fact that every single model is wearing the same lip gloss and it looks amazing on every shade of woman featured.
This is the guiding principle behind why I think Fenty Beauty has been so immensely successful. It's an ode to every woman: I am perfection. You are perfection. We are perfection. Rihanna would later go on herself to say that she wanted to make beauty line that looks good on women of all skin tones, with all of her diverse friend groups in mind. She did just that. And it turns out that the well-crafted range of universally flattering offerings for is exactly what black women needed. Plus, girl power is a little easier to stan for when you're actually included in the celebration. Just check out how these Fenty fans stanned for one another following the launch of Fenty's fan-favorite red lipstick, STUNNA.
Rihanna and her team are single-handedly cultivating the conversation around the shift in "modern beauty" and who gets to be included in it. Fenty Beauty's cult community embodies women of all backgrounds, shades, shapes and styles, and the millions of diverse women who make up its tribe are the result of what it means to be genuinely inclusive. Brands are finally recognizing the importance of diversity, and we're here for it. It's important that we see positive, authentic images of ourselves—especially taking into account that total black buying power is projected to peak at $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to Nielsen. We need brands to stand behind who position us at the forefront, not who appropriate our culture then treat us like an afterthought.
Fenty's newest launch is set to drop today, December 26. The brand will be debuting 14 bold and fearless shades of its Mattemoiselle lipstick, all which embody the singer's eclectic style. With a reported $72 million in its first month of sales, a slew of honors including 'Launch of the Year' by Women's Wear Daily and 'Invention of the Year' by Time Magazine, plus 2.5 million followers, I think it's safe to say Fenty Beauty and its celebration of #BlackGirlMagic is here to stay.
Khalah Morris is a digital marketing professional, freelance writer and diehard Chicagoan. She spends most of her spare time relishing over the latest in hip-hop & urban culture, fitness, beauty and dog pages on Instagram.