F*ck Hollywood and beyond: Exploring beauty as a vehicle for societal change

From sexual abuse in Hollywood to racial bias, beauty brands are increasingly speaking out for the greater good. But does every brand share the responsibility for creating change?


Julien Sheridan

The beauty industry’s involvement in campaigning for change has not gone unnoticed over the past year.

While taking an interest in politics, prejudice and oppression has been the focus for a select few brands, more have joined in the movement for speaking out about matters close to consumers’ hearts.

Here, Julien Sheridan, founder and CEO of international retail brand and design agency Sheridan&Co, gives her point of view on the power of beauty brands for positive social change – and whether it’s a path for every brand should pursue.


”LGBT rights, racial equality, gender parity, sexual liberation – our world has seen more positive social change in a century than it has in an entire millennia.

Despite the progress, modern life, as well as the products we consume and the design vessels used to sell them, continue to bear the legacy of discrimination.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry.

Today few brands have innovated their products and their marketing to promote racial inclusivity. Other ‘forward-thinking’ brands are quick to self-congratulate for tacking on 'Ebony' and ‘Nut Brown’ into their lines, like an afterthought.

There have been other niche cosmetics brands that have carved out a business catering to darker skinned clients.

But it had to take Rihanna – one of the world’s leading music artists – for the whole issue of racial inclusivity in cosmetics to be aired on an unprecedented scale.

Her Fenty offering was a clear answer to the blindingly obvious cultural and commercial chasm in the beauty industry that larger brands have been far too short sighted to exploit. In turn, it struck a chord with female consumers of every hue.

The beauty industry's backlash

Is this the sign of things to come? Where politicians and governments are failing to effect positive social change, are brands and consumers stepping in to select products and designs that are more reflective of the inclusive values of a richly diverse society?

From the advent of contemporary genderless non-binary design (a flagrant backlash against feminised ‘pink’ and masculinised ‘blue’ codes) to the F*ck . . .

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