Kat Von D would like you to know her makeup team has plenty of diversity … and by that, she means a diverse mixture of white or white-looking people.
The makeup mogul posted an image to Instagram showing her artistry team. Besides awesome makeup, all eight women on her team had one thing in common, which one commenter couldn’t help but point out. “Would be cool to see more ethnic diversity represented in the artistry team!” the woman wrote. Kat Von D was quick to clap back, saying that her artistry team has plenty of ethnic diversity. “Diversity? We have American, Canadian, Dutch, Mexican, Australian, and Argentinian? Not sure what is lacking in ‘diversity’ here,” she wrote.
Kat has a point. There seems to be some ethnic diversity here … different ethnicites of women who appear to be European-descended, some of whom may identify as Latina. “And as for true diversity, I have put together an artistry team that is diverse in each artist’s approach to makeup. This group’s experience, talent and hard work in the beauty world speaks for itself and covers the entire spectrum of style and technique.”
Not to be deterred, the original commenter came back to clarify what she really meant. “cool! there are also amazing makeup artists with deeper skin tones out there too and it’d be awesome to see them included in the future. Not knocking these gals at all, they’re all awesome at what they do! just hoping you can see where people of other skin tones/races may feel less included/not as represented.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t judge or hire people based off of their skin tone. I don’t care if your black white or neon green — I select my crew by what’s on the inside,” Kat Von D defensively replied. “Ps. Based on the comments left on this thread, no one has voiced feeling ‘left out’ or ‘not being represented.’ So I find it a bit strange that you (someone with a lighter tone) is trying to voice an issue on behalf of those you say may have a problem, when the reality is, that there is no problem. Don’t take this the wrong way, but the only reason I’m responding to you, is that I believe your sort of commenting is counterproductive to actual real issues out in the world today.” Von D also added that “as an extremely fair skin Latina myself, it’s hard not to take offense to those kinds of comments — and hope you can understand where I’m coming from. Hopefully in the future you won’t look at a photo of an eclectic mix of girls and bring up non issues again.”
Kat is free to hire whoever she feels is best for her company, and she has a right to do so. But considering the fact that her foundation range has a plethora of colors for people lighter than a brown paper bag but still remains woefully lacking for anyone darker, perhaps she should take a step back from criticizing people looking for more diversity on her team. And though there weren’t that many complaints on the thread she is referencing, if you look a few Instagram posts down on an image showing her foundation range, there are plenty calling for Von D to expand her shade range to accommodate her darker customers.
“She has 50 shades of white and only 5 dark skin tones,” one commenter noted. “She just needs a little help from an expert on black skin tones and then she’ll be good. It’s probably embarrassing for her to ask for that,” another said. “I’m fed up of no shades for the darkest black women. I understand there is for a lot of races but I want this to change,” yet another echoed. “The issue is the EXTREME range of nearly identical white shades and the tiny range of dark shades offered. People are upset because of the discrepancy. … Unfortunately we don’t seem to see eye to eye but that is ok. You taught me a little about makeup and pigment. I hope you can at least agree that making darker shades is not an impossible feat. And it’s something more companies need to look into,” yet another explained. It’s clear that Von D, from her artistry team down to her foundation range, has a color problem. So much for a nonissue.
Von D also faced criticism from people on social media who took issue with the fact that she, as a privileged white Latina, dared to compare her perceived struggle to nonwhite Latinas who are grossly underrepresented within Latin advertising and culture. Others compared her comments to Marc Jacobs’s recent proclamation that he doesn’t “see color” when he’s getting inspired for his runway shows, which feature mostly white models.
white latinas/kat von d be like ‘we are all mexican, argentinan, colombian. that IS diversity, we are now the REAL invalidated victims’ pic.twitter.com/eYfyjs6UOG
— z a h i r a (@bad_dominicana) September 21, 2016
I hope Kat Von D, Marc Jacobs and others understand that “I don’t see color” statement is more problematic than they think
— Tatiana (@Tatiana_Mlee) September 22, 2016
@erikadora *claims not to see color *refutes your argument on the basis of your lighter skin tone *takes offense at audacity of non-issue????
— James (@MulattoJim) September 21, 2016
— ???? (@tuets) September 22, 2016
@laur0ndo__ and latinas like her are represented everyfuckingwhere, while the darker/brown ones are never shown
— sandra ???? (@sicklefrijoles) September 22, 2016
lmao no offense but kat von d never cared for blacks or pocs. she dated a white supremacist man https://t.co/jBVuaNYDBg
— boot rocket (@BO0TYROCKET) September 22, 2016
Further, people were also upset that Von D chastized a lighter-skinned woman for wanting to see more diversity, implying you can only have such desires if you’re darker. “She doesn’t need a darker skin tone to want to see diversity. … Kat, you got weirdly defensive about this,” one commenter noted. “If you chose your team based on merit, that’s great — and if you don’t see the lack of positive representation of women of color as a ‘real world issue,’ then that is your prerogative, but let’s not slam the lady for approaching you and your platform to innocently suggest your brand diversify a little for the sake of your underrepresented clientele.”
The fact of the matter is Kat Von D does have a lot of work to do when it comes to being inclusive of the many skin tones who support her brand. And that criticism shouldn’t be seen as an attack on her but rather as an opportunity to improve.