Makeup Guru Bobbi Brown To Head Yahoo Beauty — Um, Is That Even Remotely Ethical?
Bobbi Brown, the world-renowned makeup artist behind Bobbi Brown cosmetics, announced today that she is joining Yahoo as the new editor-in-chief of Yahoo Beauty. In addition to “curat[ing] smart, strong content that will teach women how to be their best self,” she’ll continue her duties as the CCO at Bobbi Brown.
I’m an enormous Bobbi Brown fan, both the brand and the person. I saw her speak on a panel a few years ago and immediately admired how she juggles being the head of her own company and mother. She’s a rad feminist who supports causes I believe in and I really respect the fact that she lives in and raises her kids in suburban New Jersey instead of NYC or LA. And her products are awesome; I’ve got both her concealer and her lipstick in my purse right now.
That being said, I have enormous doubts about the ethics of the head of a beauty company becoming the editor-in-chief of a beauty blog on Yahoo. The role isn’t “advisor.” It’s not even “contributing editor.” It’s editor-in-chief. Please tell me how is this not just a huge commercial for Bobbi Brown’s makeup company?
It’s possible that Brown will just be a figurehead/vanity hire and not do much of the day-to-day work on Yahoo Beauty (as I imagine is the case with Martha Stewart and Oprah at their respective magazines, which are extensions of their TV shows). However, it almost doesn’t matter: Brown’s name and brand are synonymous with her products. The editorial gig — which Brown was careful to refer to as curating, not editing — will give an enormous profile to her makeup brand, no matter how much she tries to keep her two jobs separate. But we have to be real: she can’t really keep them separate and keep the editorial content fair and impartial. It may seem like no big deal because it’s just makeup, but think of the conflicts of interest here. Should Mark Zuckerberg be the editor of a social media blog? Should Victoria Beckham be the editor of a fashion magazine? Of course not — they run businesses, which an impartial media is supposed to report on. They’re not supposed to be the media.
Bobbi Brown is a really cool lady — I’ll bet she has great advice to share on all manner of subjects, be it beauty tips or professional advancement. I also think it’s not entirely unethical for her to sometimes recommend her own products in posts on Yahoo Beauty — they are, after all, great products! Plus, Brown has a pretty good personal blog on her Everyting Bobbi website (I mean, she recently gave a big birthday shout-out to Gloria Steinem, what’s not to love about that?!), so she may well even have the skills of a writer and editor. But I nevertheless wish her esteemed new position would go to an actual writer or editor (especially since those jobs are few and far between in the first place). The more appropriate place for Bobbi Brown in journalism is the place she’s always been — as an expert quoted in pieces, not on the masthead.
[Image via WENN]