“Makeup is not for girls like you,” the shelves at the CVS seem to say. At the top of each brand’s display are messages about enhancing my natural beauty through lashes long enough to cast shadows on my cheekbones and eyeshadows that embody every color of the rainbow. The ads promise beautiful lips, beautiful cheeks, beautiful skin, beautiful everything, but only to people who don’t look like me. I know this because the shelves tell me. Out of all of the brands this CVS stocks, only 4 of them carry foundation in my shade.
“This makeup is not for girls and guys and everyone between and outside that look like you. Not for the kids with that melanin skin, that chocolate covering, that ‘don’t spend too much time in the sun or you’ll only get darker’ look,” the shelves at the CVS seem to say. “Go over to the corner,” the shelves tell me, “that’s where we keep the makeup for people like you. Go use your Black Radiance or whatever.”
I personally like Black Radiance. $4.99 for a foundation that covers everything I need it to and lasts all night is normally a deal that I can’t beat. But today I want to beat it. I want to try something new, something different. I want to try the makeup I see all over the blogs. I want to try the makeup I see all over Instagram. I want to try the makeup I see all over YouTube. I want to try it all.
Maybe I’m just being greedy for asking to try all the products that everybody else gets to try. If so, I’m willing to stay greedy until the day I die. Because there are only 2 foundations in store from brands that don’t exclusively cater to deeper skin with a color range large enough to reach my 400 Caramel (brands always deem me caramel – it isn’t very original) complexion. Of these 2 foundations, only one is below $10.
I prepare to leave the store empty handed when I spot foundation number 3, which is a product I have been interested in giving a second try. It isn’t in the cosmetic aisle. In fact, it’s all the way across the store. All the deeper shades – of which I was the 2nd lightest – were in their own display next to the Doritos and the Lays.
“Makeup is not for girls like you,” the shelves at CVS tell me one last time as I pick up my foundation and head to the register.
My whole body feels hot and my eyes feel prickly. I’m embarrassed and angry. I’m embarrassed that I spent so long looking for a foundation and embarrassed that I found it in the chip aisle and that I’m now in line with my stupid Doritos makeup. And I’m angry that I’m embarrassed, that this store somehow bested me. I’m angry that I know all the shades exist online, but that I don’t get to see them in reality. I’m angry that even when they ordered the extra shades for this store, someone decided that they couldn’t just keep them in the cosmetics aisle like the foundations for everybody else. That someone, somewhere decided that maybe I was too poor, too ugly, too unintelligent, too something for this makeup.
While this narrative from the shelves at CVS is not new to me, I was surprised by where I heard it. The excuse for product lines and stocks that aren’t inclusive is always, “Well, those people just don’t buy these items.” But these CVS shelves were in a primarily black city, with primarily black employees, and serviced a primarily black customer base. By choosing to tell that narrative, the shelves at CVS only reveal their own deficiency: an inability to speak truth to the people around them.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time, have an awesome rest of your day and an amazing rest of your week!