The Era of Cancel Culture in Beauty
Cancel culture: Does it work? Who determines if the action is a forgivable mistake or too awful to come back from? As the beauty industry has become a top vertical on social media, cancel culture has increasingly become embedded within the industry, sparking confusion and division on all sides.
Recently, black-owned brand, Juvia’s Place stepped into cancel culture's crosshairs after featuring the controversial --yet extremely popular influencer-- Jeffree Star. After Star positively reviewed the brand’s new products in a YouTube video, Juvia’s Place co-signed his endorsement on their social media, leading fans to question the brand’s loyalty to black customers given his past racist remarks. The powerful voices of black mega-influencers such as Alissa Ashley, Jackie Aina and Nyma Tang voicing their disapproval heightened customers’ mistrust of the brand. The influencers suggested Juvia’s Place failed to develop a relationship with them and were only interested when they were ready to launch complexion products. They accused the brand of using pro-black imagery in their branding, only to ignore black influencers who appeal to their core consumer base. In response, Juvia’s Place doubled down on their stance on inclusion and condemnation of racism while also trying to disparage Aina. Despite the backlash, Juvia’s Place seemed to weather the storm and customers continue to support the brand on social media.
The owner didn’t give not one single fuck about having a relationship with any of us until she had complexion to launch because she knows people are looking for reviews from us. Hell, Nyma completely stopped receiving PR all together & then suddenly gets the foundations— Alissa Ashley (@alissa_ashleyy) June 16, 2019
Similarly, Bella Hadid, who has Dutch and Palestinian roots, received backlash from some in the Arab community who felt her recent actions were racist against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The model uploaded an Instagram story with her foot propped up against a window at an airport. In the background were planes from Saudia Arabian and UAE airlines. In Arab culture, showing the sole of your shoe is considered an insult, and people took to social media to protest. Many boycotted the well-known brands she is affiliated with by flooding their Instagramswith messages expressing discontent. It propelled Hadid to publicly apologize, but shortly after, business continued as usual.
At the end of the day, does cancel culture really work? If you look to more serious offenses that were brought to light in the ‘Me Too’ movement, then yes - sometimes. But if you look at the beauty industry’s yo-yo like dramatic tendencies (think the James Charles and Tati Westbrook feud), then most likely no. What is a better alternative to cancel culture? Angelica Nwandu, founder of popular Instagram account The Shade Room, proposes a great solution. “Cancel culture is a byproduct of our ability to advocate for ourselves on social media. It comes from a great place, but what I’ve suggested is that we cancel the behavior and not the person because it’s becoming a toxic movement. It’s not allowing anyone to make a mistake.” In a culture where everyone is quick to take sides, cancel culture will continue to thrive, confusing and polarizing consumers and participants alike. Can we eventually evolve from it? We shall see.