Monday, May 9, 2011

It's not Carol's Daughter's fault or Remembering to be a critical consumer

Thursday on my Twitter feed I posted a link to Gina's rant about the beauty brand Carol's Daughter on What About Our Daughters to varying responses. The brand recently issued a press release announcing a trio of new celebrity spokespersons, chosen for their multiracial heritage, and touting a new "colorless" beauty aesthetic, they say the move is in keeping with the rising number of multiracial Americans and the fact that new generations "don't see color." Gina gave the announcement a big side-eye in her typical ovaries-to-the-wall style. Many of my natural-headed Tweeple, who have been watching the evolution of CD with some resentment, threw their fists in the air and shouted "Hell yeah!". But some others wondered what is so wrong with a company expanding their target audience to include self-identified multiracial women and why that would be seen as a slam at black women. I had several really interesting conversations as a result of Gina's post and it left me judging my initial visceral reaction. I've spent some time reading and rereading the offending press release, several posts about it (Rolling Out covered the issue here and here), and CD's response to the furor. I also spent some time browsing the CD site for the first time in years. I am left with this:

Carol's Daughter isn't wrong here. I am.

Carol's Daughter is a company founded and operated by a woman, who is also "of color." For that alone, I wish the company well. Lisa Price is blazing trails. Good for her. Given all the other challenges they face, I don't know whether we need to start holding black businesses or women-owned businesses to higher or different standards. Like any business owner, Price is well within her rights to expand her marketing target or change her product. Business and the free market are amoral. I might wish that Carol's Daughter made decisions based on a particular set of values that are important to me, but I don't have any skin in the game and most companies will hold to a set of ethics only so far as it does not infringe upon their ability to turn a profit. True fact. I was wrong to forget that.

But that doesn't mean that I don't have a right to feel disappointed in the company's direction.


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