“Dear Kadeeja, I am sorry to tell you that I have bad news for you. We can’t ….shooting with you. L’Oréal can’t be involved with people with skin issues….We’re so sorry given that we liked a lot what you are defending, you were very interested in this project and you tried to organize your family like for us. Thank you very much for your help, your time, and your understanding. We hope that we will be able to meet and to work together for another great project. All the best.”
Imagine getting an email like this sent after being so excited for an upcoming project with the #1 beauty brand. Well, that was a reality for beauty influencer, Kadeeja Khan after receiving those exact words through email from an L’Oréal employee. Kadeeja has a massive following on social media and a Youtube page for her love of makeup. What makes her incredible from the rest is her acceptance of her severe skin acne while boldly showing before and after pictures. Still, even with the makeup, her skin is not perfect showing some marks and bumps. But, this is what expanded her following and fanbase; living comfortably in her skin and not being afraid to show what she really looks like.
After receiving such positive feedback, a relationship with L’Oréal, in what capacity we do not know, was formed and she was granted an opportunity to work with them. At the last minute, which was stated by Kadeeja, an email (which was blurred but still readable) states they can no longer continue their relationship because “they can’t be involved with people with skin issues.” WOW. wow. Wow. Speechless.
There are a lot of things we discuss at CosmoBiz Magazine, but this, for sure, deserved to be highlighted in our magazine. First, let us sincerely apologize to Kadeeja for even being exposed to a situation like this. Although we’re sure the person who sent this email was doing their job, that equally does not excuse the chosen language to deliver the message. There had to be better wordage to properly convey a message without disrespecting and belittling someone because of skin acne she didn’t ask to have.
But with so many points we want to discuss, we have to first address the following: why was she approved to do the project in the first place when it is plastered all over social media about her battles with acne? Why would you make her think that your company believed in her cause? I’m sure when she thought she was working on this project, she felt as if everything was coming into alignment and thinking her skin flaws couldn’t hold her back from being great. From that excitement to then getting crushed. Why wasn’t this already approved before talks even started? Why bring this woman into a situation that could cause MORE emotional harm then she could anticipate to have. We thank God she took a stand and was able to remain confident, but this situation could have deteriorated the mind frame she was currently is in. This could have drove her to depression. So why initial a conversation, then to tell someone their brand can’t be involved with people with skin issues?
Secondly, out of all the wordage that could have been written, this person felt best to say that the company, not just one person (boss, CEO, etc.) but the whole brand could not be INVOLVED with people with skin issues. What PR/Marketing/HR classes does L’Oréal offer to their employees, because this is disrespectful to not just her, but everyone out there who has skin issues. Might we just add that no one is perfect; everyone in the world falls victim to some sort of acne once in their life. Just because it’s not as prevalent on your skin does not excuse you. So, for you to belittle her was far from professional and ethical. The email could have been generic and said, “We’re sorry, but after further discussion, we’re no longer able to continue this relationship as we are going in a different direction.” See that? That’s not disrespecting someone and keeps things in good terms despite your feelings. I mean, I don’t see how with them choosing their exact words, that they think she wouldn’t broadcast this.
With the rise of social media, unrealistic approaches to skincare and beauty have been formed. Photoshop and apps like Facetune make blemishes go away in a second, which may make the user feel great, but realistically hides the true identity of themselves. This has been shown with average IG users to, now, Youtube beauty bloggers. It’s situations like these which gives beauty companies the authority to display unrealistic ads with the same heavily Photoshop looks and perfection that cannot be attained by anyone. They place so much value on perfection, but not the journey to betterment. So, just as L’Oréal is to blame, we are, in fact, to blame. We gave these companies the power to say unethical things because we, ourselves, lack an ounce of ethics, too.
With the rise of the natural movement, appreciation of the skin you’re in and self-love, we are hoping that a new way of thinking can push through even to these companies. Just as women are loving their natural hair texture, let’s appreciate our natural skin type. We’re not saying start a trend of facial acne, but rather an acceptance of the skin you’re in and not letting that hold you back from accomplishing your dreams. This will also prove to be very beneficial to companies. Rather than not associate with your consumers with skin issues, put them on the forefront. Show that everyone is not perfect and your customers aren’t either. Why don’t you use those people as testers to show how well your product really does work. People do pay for unrealistic, but they will give their life savings for honest, true results, especially from ladies with severe skin conditions. Kadeeja could have been highlighted with just how amazing their products cover her skin conditions or just how life changing skincare products could have improved her state. We want companies to recognize and take advantage of this new era. Your customer loyalty and respect will improve just as your sales.
We’re not sure how long it will be for us to see change in the beauty industry, but it’s influencers like Kadeeja we need around to articulate the problem to start a conversation. Now that we have discussed this, let’s see the action.