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Do we not exist? A rant about being ignored in the beauty industry

Original Pic Here

This rant is inspired by Glossier (a new brand from the popular website Into The Gloss-ITG), but it is not exclusively about them. While reading a post by another blogger on skincare, she mentioned how excited she was to try out some very promising products from Glossier for her skin. I being a huge fan of ITG decided to click the link to find out more about the skin care line. There was this picture and it made me angry.

I'm going to ignore the idiotic labelling of the skin colours here; I'm not sure in what world Emily, Adriana and Rebecca would be considered "medium" skin tones or where Rochelle and Paloma would qualify as "dark".

My main issue is they've gone to great care to include women from a wide spectrum, and yet ignored women (and men) of Desi Origin. For the purpose of this "conversation", I'll use the term Asian to refer to anyone with a connection from South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Maldives, and Sri Lanka). India, Pakistan and Bangladesh alone have a combined population of around 1.5 billion (not counting all the Asians who live in other countries). Why are we ignored constantly when we make up more than 1/7th of the world's population?

It's politically correct to include other people from non-Caucasian backgrounds in anything and everything, so why on earth is that courtesy not extended to us? Do we not exist? Are we not important? Do we not have feelings?

The only time we seem to be of importance is when talking of "poverty", "women's rights", "terrorism", "skin whitening", "corruption". For all these negative issues (I'm not denying they don't exist) us brown folks are at the forefront. Why do we matter then? Surely let us rot in our old ways.

There's major political changes on the brink of happening in Pakistan right now: is that being talked about? No. A rape happens in India and all of us in the UK are outraged by how dare it happen. Everyone starts talking about women's right (except Indian women, I mean why would we want to know what women from that area think, a Caucasian woman would know better right?) and how backwards South Asian countries are, and how oppressed women in them are. Truth is it also happens here on our doorsteps. 85,000 women are raped here in the UK and 400,000 sexually assaulted, of which only 11% gets the attention of the police, and prosecution/conviction rate that puts us all to shame.

In reality, we only matter when we can be made out to be in need of sympathy. No one wants to hear how amazing people of our origins are doing. Look at Malala Yousafzai: She is the ideal "oppressed" Muslim girl so the Western Media fawns over her (by the time this post is up she has won the Nobel Peace Prize). How often do we hear about the amazing work that Queen Rania of Jordan does? We don't. Because she isn't oppressed, and does not look the part of what the Western world thinks Muslim women looks like. We don't hate Malala, but we have our opinions and it isn't personal to her. We get she's campaigning for good, but where are all the other women who are doing great things?

Look at Slumdog Millionaire; throw some Indian people together, add a plot of poverty and estranged lovers and the world will throw an Oscar at it. Danny Boyle himself said he had to recruit Dev Patel from England as when he went to audition the role in India, none of the actors were "Indian" enough. Are you kidding me?! 

How many Asian Girls are walking the international ramp? How many front international makeup campaigns? Lakshmi Menon had a huge spread in Vogue US which while is great, it also was very "ethnic". They made her pose with an elephant, because you know that's what Indians do in their spare time. Turns out this was the first time she had been close to one. 

I remember reading a ridiculous ignorant quote in an article which justified the lack of brown faces on the international catwalks because girls from those the subcontinent apparently didn't view modelling as a glamorous career, and were held back due to religious and cultural beliefs. Have they even heard of Bollywood I wonder....

Heck even media aimed directly at us ignores us; look at publications here in the UK, like Asiana Bridal and Asian Bride (I'm ignoring Viya and Khush magazines because I haven't any experience with those publications). They constantly use White models to sell us products aimed specifically at Asian people. Sure our money is good but they don't think we deserve proper representation. There are not enough Desi models allegedly, and the few there is aren't "professional enough" or not "trained enough". It's prancing around in a lehenga, not opening the show at Elie Saab at Paris Fashion Week. If the Desi models don't exist here in the UK, then why not source them from India or Pakistan. We know there's plenty of them there. Asian Bride recently hosted a makeup masterclass in Birmingham as part of the Eid event in the summer which we attended. Want to guess the skin colour of the model? That's correct, not brown.
It must have been really hard in a city like Birmingham to find one professional Desi girl who had the talent to sit on a chair and to have their makeup done. Really hard. 

Back to the beauty industry, it is simply racist. There I've said it! The amount of times I used to go to beauty counters to be colour matched and the "makeup artist" would apply a random shade of brown and tell me how it was my colour. Really? Another time I had walked past another counter and the assistant called me and said (very proudly I might add) they have a brand new shade especially for Asian skin tones. As if all of us are the same skin colour. While this has changed drastically in recent years (love Bobbi Brown, Nars and Illamasqua and even though I hate them I have to mention Mac as even they can colour match most people), the really popular and newish Charlotte Tilbury does not even make a foundation that suits the skin tone of my sister. Really Charlotte? (Nigar: The girl was very enthusiastic that I was gonna come back to buy the foundation after I said I wanted to see how it looked in natural light. I didn't go back.) 

Can we just go off to Boots or Superdrug and pick up any foundation? Maybe 1? Seems unfair doesn't it, when our other counterparts can have their pick from whatever they want. A lot of brands use the excuse darker colours are harder to formulate because the of varying differences in darker skin. If L'oreal can make synthetic human skin to test products on, you makeup companies can create foundations for us with the click of your fingers. I can't find a shade that matches my skin in Rimmel (Get the London look anyone? I don't think they know that in London being White is actually in the minority), I am the darkest shade in the L'oreal Lumi Magique, the tones are all wrong (too pink) for me in Maybelline, and so on. Ex1 Cosmetics have been launched by someone Desi to provide for the gap but there's all of 4 retail stockists which are in London. They can be bought online but who is going to buy a foundation online for which they don't know what shade they are?
Let's take a look at Lakme; made in India, for Indian women. Darkest shade? "Rose Honey". Please Google that shade to see how "dark" it is. 

Asian women vary in skin tones from the palest to the darkest. We all don't fit in one shade of "brown". 

Recently Dove launched a product called Dove True Tine Underarm Dark Mark Eraser. And the British bloggers went crazy. "How dare Dove launch such a product", they cried. "Underarm discolouration shouldn't even be an issue". And they're right, it's not an issue. If you're white. If you're Hispanic, Asian or Black then it's highly likely that you're underarm is 10 times darker then the rest of your skin. I know mine is. I actually doubt whether this product even works but that wasn't the point of the outrage here; they were outraged because they thought it was selling a product to address a need that didn't exist for them. There are other skin tones on this planet love. Accept and embrace that. Even in the blogging world, over 99 % of the top blogs on Bloglovin are of White girls, the other top ones are from girls of Oriental origins. None are of South Asian or Black descent for that matter. Why is that? 

This has turned into a long ranty post, all triggered by a curiosity click from someone else's blog. To end with: We do exist, You huge billions of dollars worth beauty industry. We get enough slack as it is and we don't need to be constantly ignored by you. Stand up and take notice. If you're trying to represent everyone then include us too. 

We're of every colour, and we are beautiful, and if that's not good enough for you then you can take my winter boots and stick it where the sun don't shine.

Share your thoughts below. 

n.b Caucasian means White and in the U.K it is perfectly acceptable to refer to skin colour as White, Black and Asian. If you're from the US you might find these term offensive but you'll just have to get over it am afraid. 
n.b.b. Really pale and really dark skinned girls also have issues finding products for their skin tone on the high street and we acknowledge that. 


  1. LOVE this post! I completely agree! Thank you for this!

  2. Love your post, a rant worth having! I'm really glad that other Asian bloggers are finally starting to speak out on this. The beauty industry is pathetically racist towards women from the subcontinent, from the catwalk to the counter. Those within the lower reaches are just ignorant, particularly at the make-up counters, where they have no idea how to match our tones whatsoever so just assume 'one cap fits all'. If I wanted a bronzer, I'd ask for one!

    I've even noticed some of the '99%' of bloggers you talked of have some deep-rooted racism lurking in their backgrounds - one blogger I came across covered a fashion show using 'ethnic' models, and she termed the look as a 'gang vibe' - which I found incredibly offensive.

    The point you made about models is accurate too - at LFW they had so many 'ethnic influenced' shows all on white models! The very epitome of White Privilege - picking and choosing their favourite parts of other cultures but ignoring the people at the heart of it. To say the models just don't exist is bullshit - like you said, in London there must be a handful of pretty women of colour on every street!!

    But I do have to say that I'm trying to launch a brand at the moment and looked long and hard for Asian models, all I came across were MUAs - I might be looking in the wrong places - or maybe Asian women are being driven away from modelling by the second class treatment they recieve? I don't know. It's just an incredibly complex issue.


    1. WTH. Gang vibe? Thats so freekin rude! I don't even know what to say to that.

      I can't believe its so difficult finding Asian models .. but you totally make sense by saying that it could be that Asian women are driven away from it. Especially in the UK. How are you communicating with people on trying to find models?

  3. Its so ridiculous! especially when lakme is an indian brand!

  4. Agreeeeeeed!

    I think the only way this issue could ever be reversed is if only our own cultures themselves understood it. I love how Africans countries have now come to embrace and empower women of color whereby you have influential people that come up on the darkest end of the spectrum when representing their ethnicity but when it comes to representing south Asians its all about trying to find the most exotic yet western (pale) looking model to represent that ethnic region only so that in name Asians feel proud but subliminally targets both Asians and Caucasian people by look. God forbid an actually true 'brown' Desi skin tone model is used then the whole skin color becomes of topic.

    Here's to another 50 years of being ignored :(

    1. Agreed! We're our own worst enemy. The amount of time I see discrimination on the grounds of skin colour among our own people is unbelievable.


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