Monday, 30 May 2016

MAC Cosmetics 'Vibe Tribe' Collection | Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?

MAC Cosmetics is undeniably one of the biggest makeup brands in the entire world. With a 9.6 million Instagram following and 14.8million Facebook followers, it's obvious to see that this brand has a massive influence on makeup and makeup trends. Beauty bloggers, makeup artists and other brands alike look up to MAC for inspiration when creating new looks. It's no secret why;  their collections are always successful and incredibly versatile - from the Cinderella inspired collection released last year, to celebrity collections such as the iconic Selena, the trend is fast paced and ever changing. 

The latest release, "Vibe Tribe" however, has caused quite the controversy. It is MAC's summer collection for 2016, with the description being: 

"Lose control in lips painted reckless shades of red and coral, or a flash of gold. Let your eyes escape reality in teal, cobalt mandarin and charcoal, as free-spirited nails glisten in succulent tangerine and the perfect, buttery nude with M∙A∙C Vibe Tribe. Join the tribe. Feel the vibe."

As we all know, spring and summer are the seasons of festivals and parties, many of which people consider to be rife with cultural appropriation. Examples include bindi's, a decorative red dot worn on the forehead and of great religious significance in Indian culture. Corn rows and dreadlocks have also become increasingly popular amongst all races,  but they are historically typical of black culture. However, when black people wear them, they are deemed as "ratchet" or "ghetto." If you're unsure of what I mean, think about the Zendaya and Giuliana Rancic incident back in 2015, where Rancic stated:

 "Kylie Jenner's dreadlocks are so cool and edgy!" but when shown a photo of Zendaya's dreadlocks,  "It must smell like weed and patchouli."

Other examples of what are deemed as cultural appropriation include Katy Perry dressing like an Asian woman for a  music performance and Chris Brown throwing on a thawb in 2012, saying he decided to dress like a member of the Taliban for Halloween because "It's just a costume - I didn't mean to disrespect nobody". 

The concept of cultural appropriation, by definition, is "the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture." and because of the popularity of that term, MAC has faced backlash and been accused of it, with one loyal MAC customer commenting "People who purchase this wear the makeup for one day - I wear the stigma that comes with being Native American for life." The reason why so much controversy has been generated is because many feel like the collection is connected to Native American history and ancestory. Signs of this are indicated in the collection name, "Vibe Tribe" as well as the designs patterned on the packaging of the makeup and also the shade names, some of which include 'Call of the Canyon", "Wild Horses", "Painted Sunset", "Desert Evening" and "Firebrush."

Some customers agree that if MAC had collaborated with a Native designer to create this collection, like they had done with other designers in the past, it would have been a completely different story. Other customers say that it could possibly even symbolic and a celebration of how far Native Americans have come, since many Native Americans have been removed from their homelands by force in what is known as the Trail of Tears  or more commonly, the Indian Removal Act. 

After MAC was asked about this, their statement was:
“The collection, including the visuals, product lineup, and naming, is inspired by art, outdoor music festivals, and the colors of the desert. The collection has absolutely no connection to nor was it inspired by the Native American cultures.” 

I am personally 100% neutral when it comes to the topic of cultural appropriation as I think there is a difference between appropriation and appreciation. In other words, I don't get involved. On one hand, I completely understand why people get upset, because as someone mentioned, their race and culture is not a costume and cannot be made a trend when it is suitable for fashion and makeup industries. On the other hand, I think it is okay to see companies paying homage to various cultures as well as for people to discover new cultures - it eliminates segregation, which is ultimately what we as a human race are working towards. 

As long as you ask yourself, "Why am I wearing it?" and "Do I know the significance of this product?" I think its alright. After all, this world is so diverse and  we should learn to get familiar with each other's cultures and appreciate the culture for what it is, not for the type of brand or the next big celebrity who is enforcing it.

Let me know what your thoughts are on cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Do you think "Vibe Tribe" is worth all of this controversy or is it simply another makeup trend? 

~ Miah ~ 

Snapchat: miah_5797