ONYX: “Reclaiming Our Beauty” Panel

Our customers and Associates come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse needs. We’re proud to partner with a broad array of vendors to offer a wide variety of products – most recently introducing shaving products that specifically address the needs of people of color via The Market @ Macy’s.

Lately, the spotlight has been on beauty brands and their ability – or failure – to represent the diverse consumer. Thanks to Black Twitter, increased black buying power, and social media in general, brands are being held to higher standards of inclusivity and representation.

On Feb. 7, as a part of our Black History Month programming, ONYX, Macy’s employee resource group aiming to empower black employees, hosted a panel discussion featuring beauty industry leaders that explored what it means to reclaim beauty standards – both from a consumer perspective and from the perspective of the beauty and retail industries.

“I found myself going through hoops to see what a lipstick shade would look like on me.” – Julee Wilson, fashion and beauty director, Essence Magazine

Black beauty wasn’t always appreciated, much less embraced. Yvenique Lovinsky, Macy’s direct marketing analyst, and ONYX business initiatives committee lead, was inspired to create this event after learning about Sarah Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman born in a province of South Africa. Baartman was taken to Europe in 1810 and placed in freak show exhibitions because of her body shape.

ONYX’s vision for this event was reflected when Susan Akkad, senior vice president, local and cultural innovation for The Estee Lauder Companies, explained that, “we define black beauty, because we didn’t see ourselves in beauty or fashion – only as forms of entertainment – so we had to claim black beauty for ourselves, for our own identities and for our own worth, as well as for our children.” The lack of representation is changing largely due to social media, where the black community is able to own and author the conversation.

Brands, too, must lead the charge in making inclusion a priority. But how? First, by making sure a person of color is in the room when decisions are being made, and second, by dismantling the “one size fits all” model and adopting a global beauty mindset – one that represents the full spectrum of skin color and hair textures.

The movement toward a more inclusive culture isn’t going away any time soon. According to a study by Beautycon media, 13-to-34-year-olds, deemed “Pivotals,” are “collectively pivoting the beauty industry away from antiquated ideals about attractiveness that drove marketing of the past – and forcing companies to re-think their approaches surrounding beauty, as well as to diversify their product offerings.”

To stay ahead of the curve, panelist Nicolette Bosco, Macy’s beauty editor, shared that we are now partnering with 11 new natural beauty vendors, and plan to secure a total of 20 over the next year.


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