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Fenty: Makeup for the Future

FENTY. Makeup for the future.

A vast majority of us wear makeup, right? So why is it when we think of futuristic makeup we think about eyeliner that, no matter the experience of the applicant, creates the perfect cat eyes. Or mascara that creates the effect of fake lashes! When the reality of “futuristic” beauty is much simpler and mind blowingly behind the times. So much so that a large percentage of companies didn’t even offer foundations in skin colors that they summed up to being “less common”. (Shocking how the white company owners that dominated the entertainment and beauty industry at the time didn’t see a need, right? *eye roll*)

That’s where Fenty Beauty comes in. An industry changing foundation and concealer released by Rihanna in late 2017. Finally there was a beauty line made for the real woman. Finally, there was foundation for everyone. Lemme hear you say, “Can a bitch get a shade match?!” *insert Jean-Ralphio’s voice* Since the release of Fenty, beauty companies have been stumbling to find their footing in the rush to become the next inclusive makeup company. The real question is, does it even matter?

I, like many others, have wondered why more shades weren’t available in the past. Using both hands I can count the number of times I was backstage at an event with a woman who couldn’t find a makeup match. Having to settle for a tone lighter or darker than what she really needed. In ignorance, I’d hear it excused as “a harder color to match” due to the darker or lighter pigmentation of the shade. Thanks to Rihanna, this myth has been dispelled.

The introduction of Fenty did much more than provide a wider variety of shade options. It became the staple for expanding America’s ideals of beauty. Using models of different complexions that had rarely been seen in mainstream media previously. Rihanna didn’t just invent a new makeup line, she invented an entirely new fucking industry! One where having dark skin no longer made you a less likely to be hired as a model but actually, quite the opposite.

This effect didn’t stop with the entertainment industry but rather snowballed into creating an entirely new culture. The common model quickly shifted from white and mixed backgrounds to women of culture and color. From a place where black women were pressured to straighten their hair, despite the damage it may cause, in an effort to appear more white. To embracing natural curls, bald heads, dreadlocks, Bantu knots, etc! It wasn’t just a representation of skin, it was a representation of culture. Of embracing womanhood and saying “fuck you!” to anyone who doesn’t like it.

America’s representation of “beauty” has always been purposefully and forcefully a white woman. Generally with blonde hair and colored eyes. You know, like Barbie? This has never been an accurate representation of the melting pot that makes up the states. It was limiting and intended to bring separation in not only race, but in women. Promoting an ideal that appearance should prompt competition and conformity was the only way to succeed.

To say this practice was racist and sexist is an understatement. Using the excuse of “beauty” as justification to not hire women who didn’t fit their “standards” and refused to fall into the societal molds that were being pushed on them. The reality is, the makeup industry made the blatant decision to be non-inclusive and is now consequently paying for it. As lines like Fenty and MAC continue to flourish, despite the higher cost than drugstore brands. The solution was so simple it’ll have you wonder why it took so long?

To be frank, it’s disappointing that this product took so long to become available. It’s disappointing that a black female artist had to step up and do it. Yes, it has contributed to the growth of her empire which is beautiful and empowering in itself. It also brings perspective to the world we live in and how we address issues of social injustice as a society.

What does it say about our culture in America that the only reason a resolution came about is because a celebrity was more innovative than the makeup companies. Companies that pre-existed Rihanna and had a platform in an industry that was built with the intent to help individuals feel confident in their skin. A target that was far missed due to their exclusion of a large percentage of people.

It is time for us, as individuals, to channel our inner queen! Our inner Rihanna! As we redefine our culture as Americans and our beauty standards as people. A narrative that for once promoted inclusion and empowerment above all else.

Thank you, Rihanna. You’re an angelic queen and we love you!

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