Sooooo I have learned/been reminded of a very great lesson in the past few months. I am going to elaborate on the lesson that I learned right now!! Like to hear it? Well here it goes!
A month ago, I was freelancing at a luxury beauty boutique in the nations capital and one of Obama’s right hand people came in with a friend. She came in, and immediately I recognized her. I was super excited, and imagined how our exchange would unfold. I imagined that I would greet her, answer all of her questions, take her on a tour of the store, give her some samples of great products, crack a few jokes related to the awesome world of beauty, and then give her my business card knowing that she had a great experience and would definitely reach out to me later for my services. I figured since she was a woman of color and African American to be exact that I was the best person to approach her and “look out”.
I was wrong, way wrong. I spoke to her, and a few other vendors spoke, and her response to us all with out opening her mouth was that we were mere peasants who were not deserving of her time. I knew that it was not the typical “Im a political celebrity and just want to be left alone”response that I recognize and can identify before I even greet a person. Instead, it was that ugly you can only talk to me if you pass the “brown paper bag talented tenth college educated only upper middle class/upper class” look and attitude that she gave me which hurt my heart. I have certainly experienced that attitude from countless black women, but she caught me off guard. I was extremely disappointed. She had stereotyped me the same way that most of my clients stereotype me, but I expect it from them.
Two weeks pass by and I have two more encounters with two different women that were the total and complete opposite of the one with”Obama’s helper”. I was in the same store, different location, and a young lady who looked like she was in her mid to late twenties asked me for advice choosing a concealer. She wanted a concealer that was easy to travel with so I decided to show her one from a line that just happens to not offer any darker shades for women of color. I brought her over to the line, picked up the concealer, and before I could demonstrate how the product worked, she noticed that there were no colors for deeper skin tones. I laughed and said that while I could not wear anything from the line, I liked it for lighter skin tones. She said “that’s fucked up”, and followed that up with “show me something else, if there is nothing here for you, then there is nothing here for me”, I went to another line, and sold her another concealer from another brand. We continued to chat and that was that.
The next woman I helped came into the same store but on a different night. She was looking for a new foundation, I matched her, and somehow we started talking about cosmetic brands that made foundation shades for darker skin tones vs ones that did not. She said that she didn’t understand how companies could choose not to create foundation colors for deeper skin tones, and was visibly passionate about this issue. When I asked her where her passion came from, she told me that she was a civil rights attorney. I was surprised, we continued our conversation, she bought the foundation, thanked me for matching her, providing an interesting conversation, and exited the store.
The last two women showed compassion and empathy for the struggles that black women deal with on a daily basis when trying to find makeup in the prestige beauty market. They each expressed their disappointment and frustration with brands that only catered to a certain demographic racially, and they did not have to. They allowed me to do my job with out stereotyping and judging me based on the many stereo types that they could have chosen. They were the total opposite of the first woman and they were white! They reminded me not to judge a book by its cover by their actions, and for that I thank them!