Only worth it if you’re perfect: why L’Oreal’s attitude is damaging to us all


Last month, beauty blogger Kadeeja Khan, aka @emeraldxbeauty on Instagram, claimed she was fired from a L’Oréal project for having “skin issues”, according to their statement. Khan was understandably distraught when she was informed of the bad news via email. She called out L’Oréal publicly on Instagram, saying “I’m already use to ‘trolls’ trying & bring me down. But coming from a global international brand? .. Really hurt. It honestly made me feel like their really isn’t any room in the industry for people like me. It made me feel that “you’re worth it” – if you’re perfect (sic).”

L’Oréal hit back at the claims, saying their casting agents “wrongly cast bloggers with skin conditions for a photo shoot,” and then poor communication ensued. I don’t understand why L’Oréal used the word ‘wrong’. What the beauty giant is essentially saying here is that imperfect skin with blemishes is not considered the norm, and don’t meet the standards they expect.

This revelation must be incredibly damaging for people with acne. Acne is not something people can control easily. The majority of people’s skin isn’t perfect, with many of us suffering from breakouts. Khan has 147k followers in Instagram, and she isn’t afraid to bare her acne scars and spots. So why should a global leader in the beauty industry be afraid to?

At the end of the day, we all need help in concealing spots from time to time. If beauty companies continuously hire models with flawless skin, this will result in their customers becoming alienated. I am sick of seeing ads for concealer showing a model applying it to one CGI spot on an otherwise blemish-free face. We need more products with better coverage, and this will never happen if all the foundations and concealers are geared towards Gigi Hadid types with a constant dewy, fresh glow.

Melanie Murphy is a prominent Irish YouTuber whose video revealing her acne made her channel gather speed way back in 2014. It is so important for acne-positive vloggers to have a platform. Acne can be extremely disheartening, not to mention painful if one has cystic acne. The success of these beauty bloggers and YouTubers show young girls and boys out there that skin conditions don’t have to ruin your life.

Of course, there is also the argument that make-up has become so commercialised and commodified it is harming young people’s self-esteem. If one needs to wear make-up in order to have self-confidence, is this truly healthy? However, who are we to judge others’ decisions? Make-up is not harming anyone, and for many, it is an art form. Not to mention acne-positive beauty gurus such as Khan are keen to clarify they don’t ‘need’ to wear make-up, they want to.

Models such as Briana Lopez and Belle Lucia have already taken to Instagram to show their acne, unfiltered and all. This undoubtedly is a major help to people suffering from low self-confidence when their acne is at its worst. It also provides a contrast the photoshopped, Facet tuned efforts of some of their counterparts.

It is time for make-up advertisements and beauty giants to stop beating about the brush(!) and start portraying real skin. Real skin includes moles, scars, freckles, spots, rosacea and vitiligo. In the case of vitiligo, the beauty industry has taken a few tentative steps forward with Winnie Harlow. It is time for them to ramp up their efforts in other areas to make sure their models are reflective of their consumers.

By Áine Kenny

Photo credit Maria Morri via Flickr

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