There’s definitely an abundance of color diversity in Tarte’s new foundation line. I’m sure every North-European has the perfect shade–look at the selection! They can choose from egg-white, light-white, beige-white, lighter beige-white, cream-white, lightly-bronzed-white, creamy-white, light-light beige-white, a lighter cream-white, one-day-tanning white, and white-white. Oh, and there are also, of course, a handful of darker shades that people of color are sure to enjoy.
Only three, maybe four, of the Tarte foundation shades include people of color, and they are very mono-tonal: light brown, chocolate brown, and dark brown.
The problem with this selection goes beyond beauty cosmetics, but representation. While practically every person of Northern European descent has the perfect shade, nearly no person of color can work with such a limited range. The lack of inclusion rings back many bells for people of color. So many of us grew up seeing white models on magazine covers, white television characters, white Barbie dolls, white everything. Even within our own race group, colorism exists in favor of light skin or more “fair” skin tones.
Darker Latinx are often derogatively called “moreno/morena” and treated as lower because of a lack of Spaniard blood. Darker African Americans face stigma with being “too dark,” as lighter toned African Americans such as Zendaya and Kerry Washington often receive more opportunity in society than their darker counterparts. Darker Asians, particularly South Asians like myself, are told to bleach their skin, use “Fair and Lovely” creams, and avoid the sunlight at all costs. In fact, many would rather be Vitamin D deficient than expose their porcelain skin.
The association of whiteness of skin with purity and privilege is reflected not just in these social views but in legal treatment; one study found that lighter skin African American women serve 12% less time for committing the same crimes. From our own communities to the justice system, people of lighter skin are perpetually favored. Recently, however, movements pushing self-love and embracing the melanin have brought confidence to us darker-skinned people. I, for one, stopped listening to the commercials telling me my skin needed to be light and pure, and I refused to apply bleach masks at the beauty parlor despite how much the obsessive Indian auntie persisted. We’re moving forward in loving multi-toned diversity, so we cannot stand with backward-thinking products limiting us time and time again.
Representation is vital to our identity. Being able to relate to highly-anticipated products and basic beauty supplies is important for the everyday individual of color. We need to feel included, to be seen as normal and accepted for our colored skin, not set aside with three ill-matching shades for consolation. Hopefully more companies will follow in the footsteps of companies such as Fenty Beauty, NARS, and Bobbi Brown to include all the incredible skin tones the world has. Humans are a beautiful color spectrum, and we need recognition for each lovely shade, not just the “fair” ones.
On the bright side, Tarte recently released a statement claiming they will include ten more inclusive shades to the collection. We’re getting there–slowly, but surely.