I would argue that Rihanna’s best invention was this GIF…
… but instead of being honoured for perfecting the drive-by Boy Bye face, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has been named one of TIME’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017. GIF jokes aside, Fenty Beauty has been an important part of the ongoing conversation about diversity in the beauty industry. Rihanna talked to TIME about the overwhelming response to Fenty’s initial launch with 40 shades of foundation, covering the palest pale to the darkest dark, and everything in between.
“I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole. Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over.”
In March, I wrote about the difficulties that can come with finding a proper foundation shade if you are a woman of colour. If you’re a black woman darker than, say, Tracee Ellis Ross, it can be downright demoralizing. When I wrote about this erasure of certain skin tones and how it is directly related to the glaring issue of colourism in the beauty industry, I got a DM telling me to “calm down, it’s just makeup.” It’s easy to say it’s *just* makeup. Dismissing an interest in beauty as foolish or inconsequential is ignorant rhetoric we’ve heard for years. You can’t be a feminist if you care about contouring. Forget being taken seriously if you’re rocking a bright, bold red lip. I am currently sitting at my desk, in semi-permanent false eyelashes and the boldest red lip I own, for no other reason than it’s a Thursday (this was written yesterday) and I love myself. To me, makeup is never just makeup. My guess is that Rihanna feels the same way.
“Makeup is like a secret weapon. Depending on my mood, my look, or the occasion, makeup can go from very subtle to a complete transformation, and that’s the fun in makeup: being able to play and create in endless ways."
Rihanna tells a story to TIME about her earliest memory of beauty. She recalls watching her mom make funny faces while putting on her makeup. My earliest memory of beauty is similar. My mom never liked putting on makeup so from when I was about 12, for every event she had to go to, I would do her makeup for her. Some of my favourite memories with my mother are the ones spent in front of the mirror as she would make me promise her not to put on too much eyeliner while I would tell her to hush and trust her daughter. I always put on too much eyeliner. That memory just made me a little misty.
I just read an amazing piece on Shondaland by Kara Brown about the joy of lipstick. She writes about the simple delight in sharing a really good shade with a friend or a stranger. She writes about how a good shade of lipstick can lift a mood and seemingly fix your whole day.
It’s so simple yet yields great returns — it’s the makeup version of salting your food.
I love that so much. I love that Fenty Beauty is a 2017 invention providing just as much pleasure as a mug that heats up your coffee just right or fidget spinners.
Now, try to slide into my DMs and tell me it’s just makeup.
You can read Rihanna’s full interview with TIME here.