L’Oreal Paris’ latest Feria ad, featuring spokesperson Beyonce, has been getting some unintended attention in the last couple of days because the company has been accused of digitally lightening the entertainer’s skin and editing her nose to appear pointier. Though L’Oreal denies the accusations, the difference between the ad and the real Beyonce is striking. L’Oreal’s deal with Beyonce in 2006 was part of a growing trend to include black women in ads for beauty products that were traditionally marketed solely to white women. And black women took notice because Beyonce is one of the biggest entertainers of our time. Although she in no way represents a majority of black women, we were excited to see someone that resembled us and to have products, like hair dye, that would work with our hair texture.
But we also knew Beyonce fit an ideal of beauty that was consistent with L’Oreal’s image. She’s has pretty fair skin and wears her weave…I mean…hair, extremely long and straight. Her endorsement deal, according to Apryl’s Advertising Blog, says the entertainer must keep her hair in “excellent condition” and notify the company if she plans to make “any radical change.” Currently, Kerry Washington is the only other black spokesperson for L’Oreal and even she fits this ideal to some extent.
Which brings me to this ad in particular. It’s really offensive that L’Oreal felt it necessary to make Beyonce’s pale skin even paler and to make her nose more Anglo because it reinforces the archaic standard of whiteness being the beauty ideal. And it also creates confusion. How can a company purport to usher in a new wave of beauty, but then say that beauty is not good enough?
Now some people may say that it was the lighting at the photo shoot that made her skin look whiter, but that’s ridiculous. If that was the case, L’Oreal should have used Photoshop to create an accurate depiction of Beyonce — she’s worth it and so are their customers. [ABC News]