Many women with darker skin tones celebrate Too Faced’s “Born This Way” foundation because its color palette has expanded. But the look at the names of the colors tarnishes the joy: in contrast to the light bases, they received the name of chocolate, desserts and coffee specialties. The brand is not alone in this. These supposedly harmless terms are ubiquitous in the beauty industry, but they have a racist background.
The “Born This Way” color palette was expanded as part of a collaboration with Black Beauty Youtuber Jackie Aina. With 11 additional shades, the darker color spectrum in particular has been expanded to a total of 35 shades, which is under-represented by many makeup brands. However, the Twitter post of CocoaSwatches, a makeup app specifically for women with darker skin, sparked a discussion.
Ganache, mocha, tiramisu and nut butter
Many Twitter users noticed something when taking a closer look at Too Faced’s entire color spectrum: while the light shades have names like “Warm Beige”, Light Beige, “Natural Beige”, “Nude” or “Warm Nude”, the dark ones Named in honor of foods and beverages such as “Ganache” (chocolate glaze), “Tiramisu”, “Truffle”, “Nut butter”, “Mocha” or “Spiced rum”. “Vanilla” is the only exception for light shades, although it should be noted that the term “vanilla” is often used to describe the basic variant with no features, such as vanilla sex.
Twitter user Sabina started a discussion because of this anomaly: “How is it that the darker tones are ALWAYS named after the food or the flavor? Is that such a fetish thing? Is it because mayonnaise and eggshell don’t sound so appetizing? The last sentence was a joke. “
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
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The comparison with food has historical reasons
The fact that black women’s skin color is often referred to as fancy food is probably not a coincidence. Twitter user AClooForYou has the following assumption: “I have a theory as to why dark tones are often referred to as food (or wood): because things like (brown) sugar, cocoa, tea, mahogany, ebony, etc. they were very valuable goods that were won with colonialism. “
This theory may seem far-fetched at first glance, but not when you look more closely at how much the colonization of Africa has influenced our current Western culture. In my studies of ethnology, I dealt in detail with the extent to which our language is still shaped today by colonialism and how it reproduces racist stereotypes. There are even scientific books that are exclusively devoted to the cultural-historical connections between colonialism, chocolate, and anti-black racism, such as Silke Hakenesch’s “Chocolate and Blackness.”
Not only English, but also the German language are strongly influenced by colonialism in Africa. “Africa and the German language” explains this easily with numerous examples. The critical reference work is available for 16 euros on Amazon:
Even if you consider that numerous desserts containing cocoa in Germany have racist names, you can see how problematic the choice of name is for Too Faced. Just think of foam kisses, which many still use the N word to refer to.
No more nudes!
But Too Faced hasn’t just come under fire for the name of dark colors. Many Twitter users cannot understand that so many brands still refer to light beige tones as “nude”, that is, “skin color”. After all, dark brown tones could also be called “nudes.” Manufacturers could take an example from the German organization GoVolunteer, which wants to point out with its 12-skin color pencil set that there is more than one generic skin color.
Some Twitter users take color names humorously and suggest simply naming all shades after the meal. These Twitter users offer suggestions for fair skin tones: “Whipped cream, French vanilla, white chocolate” and “Coconut, panna cotta, meringue, crème brûlée.”
Others do not want to get involved in the discussion about color names, but are happy that there is finally a useful basis for black women. Twitter user Melaninqueen writes: “You all love to complain. Thanks to Jackie Aina for the hard work this brought us. “ So if you don’t mind the name of the base colors, now you can order “Born This Way” from Too Faced in Germany from Douglas.
Browsing through the makeup range in German pharmacies, I discovered that many other brands like Nyx or Maybelline also name dark foundation shades after food and drinks like “Cocoa”, “Mocha” or “Pecan”. There seems to be no awareness that names can be problematic if light tones instead have names such as “neutral beige” or “nude”. Have you noticed those names in other areas? Then tell us more in the comments!