Throwing Shade: A Battle for More Colors At Macy’s

Foundation ShadesFoundation at the Shiseido department of Macy’s sheds light on the color battle. Fair shades like “Ivory 12” and “Creamy Beige 06” are put on front display, with deeper tones towards the back.

Lisa looking for Makeup

Lisa Brown, 47, is shown searching for her correct foundation match. She explains, “I always have problems finding a tone that matches my skin. I don’t understand why they don’t make colors for us!”

Euphoria AdCalvin Klein’s Euphoria features a close-up of a European, blue-eyed, model with razor sharp cheekbones. Advertisements like this can be found all throughout the store.

2013-11-30 19.41.03Beauty consultants at Clinique share a laugh. Ella, 35, notes her experience with customers of different races, “I think that we have a lot of different representation here. Filipino, American, Hispanic. We have it all!”

Women in FragrancesTwo customers stop near the fragrance counter. “We love shopping here, but we order our foundation shades online,” Anna Lin, 29, stated when asked about her makeup purchases.

By Simone Johnson


6 thoughts on “Throwing Shade: A Battle for More Colors At Macy’s

  1. sreyabhowmik

    I loved this idea. Especially the fact that simple things like the availability of foundation colors is another way racism is perpetuated in society, and helps promote the idea that being white is “better.” You will not believe the number of times I have seen people of color use a shade lighter than their own skin, which also looks really awkward in photos. Why should they feel the need to use that shade and appear lighter skinned? But maybe the truth is there are just not enough choices in the beauty stores, and inevitably they are forced to choose a color that does not reflect their actual sin color.

  2. ssyun1014

    I thought it was interesting how you looked into the order that foundation colors were arranged. I always considered it obvious to have lighter shades in front for some reason that I can’t even explain. I have noticed, however, that there are less darker shades available in almost every brand and that most brands will not offer dark enough color for some people. I wonder if it’s just that lighter shades sell more or that there are more people in lighter shades or if it’s just the prejudice in cosmetic brands that most beauty products end up being predominantly light.

  3. vanessaashleytadena

    I thought that this was a great photo essay! You barely even need to explain the pictures to understand your point. I like how you noticed that the lighter color foundations are in the front while the darker color foundations are in the back. I think that it would be better if instead of having them in columns like that, they have a spectrum that goes across horizontally. This way no color is specifically in the back. Also, I think it is unfair how there aren’t that many darker color make up. It’s quite unfair for some people to have to order things online because they can’t find their correct shade in stores. There should also definitely be more ads of people who are not white.

  4. cdjohan

    You took a creative approach in conveying your message in your photo essay. I would have never noticed whatever you brought up until I read your post! Since I am usually one of the lightest shades when I choose a foundation, I think this is partly my privilege not to notice such a thing.
    I recently read that a few high end brands (like Chanel) do not carry darker colored foundation and that has created a lot of controversies. Overall, I really like your idea for your photo essay!

  5. tdw2013

    This is great! I’m lighter skinned black so I have the privilege of having more shades of foundation available to me than other black women who have much darker skin, but even with that I still run into issues of getting the right shade for me. Sometimes I feel like the only reason I can even find foundation is because it was originally intended for really tan white women. Me and my mother’s white friend actually share the same shade of Clinique face powder. Sometimes when I asked to get matched for foundation the makeup clerks often try to get me to buy two foundations and mix them to get the right color. Which is ridiculous considering they have 20 different shades of white and only 5 shades of anything darker. For some reason I’ve never really questioned this but that shows how Eurocentric beauty standards are embedded into our society and into our psyches.


  6. chellemiii

    It is an interesting photo essay! I actually never think of this before. In Asian cultures, every girl wants to be whiter. Being white is one criterion of an Asian beauty. When Asian girls choose a foundation, they will choose a lightest shade to make them look white. I also choose a lightest shade. I never notice there is no darker colored foundation for some races because of the part of the privilege I got in this case. There should definitely be more colored shade as we promote diversity in society! Very interesting photo essay!


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