The beauty and fashion site uses the recent “Today Show” hair fiasco as a prime example
Unless you were living under a rock last week, you definitely saw NBC’s The Today Show completely fail in its “60-second Great Summer Hairstyles” segment. During the segment YouTube beauty guru Deepica Mutyala attempted to give three models—one African-American—a trio of easy breezy hairstyles to beat the summer heat.
Yet, when she turned to Malyia Mcnaughton’s already perfectly coifed natural hair into a frizzy side ponytail disaster, it didn’t go over well. Within hours of the broadcast, Black Twitter and the internet unleashed on Mutyala calling out her inability to understand Black natural hair.
And while Mutyala later apologized, promising to “do better,” the damage had already been done. Another day, another example of non-Black experts not understanding Black beauty (Remember Buzzfeed’s abysmal contouring lesson last year?)
— Deepica Mutyala (@deepicam) August 5, 2016
“For decades the beauty industry has been able to get by using a shortsighted definition of diversity—one that only accounts for representation. Traditionally it has been enough for brands to only represent black women in beauty campaigns or TV segments but today that definition of inclusion no longer cuts it,” Dirshe wrote.
“Instead of approaching beauty from a colorblind vantage point, beauty brands should go a step further in addressing the needs and concerns of black women,” Dirshe added. “Our hair and makeup looks are different and should therefore be communicated and treated as such. Diversity isn’t just a marketing strategy; it’s a holistic approach that includes authentically engaging with and understanding the needs of black women.”
So what does that actually look like?
Ofunne Amaka, founder of Cocoa Swatches, told Dirshe that in order for that to be a reality, it’s about rethinking hiring practices across the board.
“True diversity would involve brands supporting the idea of diversity in every facet of their company: From their hiring practices, to their marketing efforts, to their product development, to their communications to their influencer relations,” Amaka said.
And for Mcnaughton, whose tresses had to endure this experience, the responsibility for change also must be on people color themselves, she said.
“There isn’t a reason to hire hosts or producers who can create content that reflect what the consumers want to see. We need to say what’s important and the industry will adjust accordingly,” Mcnaughton added.
The issue of representation not being enough transcends the beauty world.
It’s been a big topic in Hollywood as well, where in television, we have seen a rise in characters of color thanks to Empire, Scandal, Underground and Orange Is The New Black. Yet writing rooms, even on some diverse TV shows, still seem to be very white and male, which can affect the authenticity and humanity of characters on the TV shows.