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Is Tarte The Next Makeup Brand to Be Cancelled? Everything You Need To Know About The Brand’s Most Recent Controversy.

by Faith Green

Inclusivity within the beauty industry has come a long way in the last 20 years. While diverse models have been added and shade ranges have been widened, we still have a long way to go. Recently, the notorious makeup brand Tarte has proven as such.

Tarte has faced numerous discrimination allegations through the years. Notably, the racial transgression in 2018 regarding their lack of diverse shades; out of 15 of the shades released for their Shape Tape Foundation, only 3 were suitable for darker skin tones. The brand was completely eviscerated on social media following the release, and many called for more shade inclusivity within the brand. 

Now the brand is in hot water once again after a video exposing the brand’s mistreatment of black creators went viral. Last week, social media influencer Bria Jones posted a now-deleted video on her TikTok detailing a negative encounter she had with Tarte. The result? Deactivated accounts, apology videos, viral tweets, and numerous hot takes.  

In the video, Bria explains how she was one of the many influencers invited to attend a Tarte-sponsored work trip held this past weekend. So what’s the issue? She notes that her itinerary was different from other creators, as she was being excluded from several events held during the brand-influencer trip. She ends the video with a powerful line: “I have worked too hard to get to where I am today and I will be damned as a black creator, if I accept anything other than equal treatment on these trips.” Initially, she appears to be one of the only black creators to be a part of this trip.

Shortly after the video was posted, Bria deactivated her account, likely due to the overwhelming influx of varying commentary regarding the post, some positive, and some in defense of the makeup brand. Tarte has since responded in a video that barely addresses Bria’s concerns. Tarte’s CEO, Marueen Kelly posted a TikTok on Friday that was half apology, half makeup tutorial, which many have since called  “imperceptive” and “disingenuous.” 

With statements like “Miscommunications happen” and “…The things that are important to me are maybe not important to everyone else”, it’s clear that both Tarte and Kelly’s attempt to rectify the issue was not only extremely inappropriate, but tone-deaf as well. The video has since been deleted, and another apology video (for the apology video) remains in it’s place.  


My message to creators

♬ original sound – Maureen Kelly

Instead of an official press statement denouncing claims of racism, we’re instead given a thinly veiled makeup video disguised as an apology. There’s also a complete lack of acknowledgement of Bria herself; her name isn’t mentioned once during the ”get ready with me” video. 

There’s an uncanny disconnect in the way brands respond in the face of backlash. Brands like Tarte know that diversity and inclusivity is important to being well-received. By taking a look at this response, it’s clear that their attempts at diversity—and saving face—are rarely executed well. 

As a result of both Bria’s initial video, and Tarte’s “apology” video, social media has erupted in a frenzy. Other popular Black influencers who have spoken out in support of Tarte, like creators Fannita and Nike, have received an overwhelming amount of backlash for siding with a brand that has proven to be discriminatory on several occasions. Luckily, this scandal has opened up larger conversations about facing racism as a brand influencer.

We live in a post-modern, vaguely Orwellian society where social media is deeply intertwined with consumerism. But this Tarte controversy exemplifies that virality isn’t always the best thing for a brand. Being proactive, getting vocal, and being mindful about the brands you chose to support is an extremely efficient way to boycott brands that don’t prioritize inclusivity. Don’t engage with any of Tarte’s online posts, because in the age of beauty gurus and brand hauls, commentary is currency. 

Top Photo Credit: Mynocturnality via Unsplash

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