Last week, MAC cosmetics posted a photograph of a Black woman’s lips to it’s Instagram page. Taken backstage during New York Fashion Week, the photograph was meant to showcase MAC’s “Royal Romance” lipstick. Instead, the photo was bombarded with a barrage of racist comments. MAC addressed the issue two full days later by posting a photograph to it’s Instagram page which read “ALL AGES, ALL RACE, ALL SEXES” and the caption, “M.A.C stands for and respects All Ages, All Races, All Sexes. We celebrate the beauty of individuality, and the confidence to be who you are.”
When I learned about what happened, and that MAC had not yet responded, I decided to launch a social media campaign. I partnered with my girl, Thembisa Mshaka, who runs @officiallipgame and sprinkles #LipGame across social media. I learned that the woman featured was 20-year old model, Maryse Kye and that she had posted on her own Instagram about the incident saying that although she “felt so insecure and a bit embarrassed” as she read the comments, she smiled as she saw the love and support of strangers.
We launched the #PrettyLipsPeriod campaign (shout out to Thembisa for the dope hastag) to show Maryse love and support. A few days later, we learned that the photo was actually not of Maryse, but that of Ugandan model, Aamito Lagum . In a certain way, that was neither here nor there – the fact that Maryse thought the lips were her own, and that she was negatively impacted by the commentary, was all the more reason for us to love her up as well! With over 1,700 Instagram posts over the past two days, it became beautifully clear that this project is as much about loving and supporting Maryse and Aagum as it about loving and supporting US.
From poet, Nayyirah Waheed sharing a poem from her book “nejma” , to R&B duo, Kindred the Family Soul’s (Aja & Fatin ) show of support, to Aagum Lagum herself sharing an illustration of her perfect lips and asking her followers to join the movement – the response has been amazing! However, in going through the #PrettyLipsPeriod feed , I noticed that people were beginning to thank M. A. C. for responding to the incident with this campaign; and naturally, I wasn’t having that. I shared a post to remind folks that #PrettyLipsPeriod was created BY Black women, FOR Black women and asked our followers to recommend Black-owned make-up lines. Here’s a list of the 26 companies they shared:
So Aesthetic (Ghana)
By Guest Contributor: Dr. Yaba Blay