The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

A Division of L'Oreal Found Guilty of Racism

We were dismayed to learn recently that a division of cosmetics giant L'Oréal was found guilty of racial discrimination after it sought to exclude non-white women from promoting its shampoo.

In recruiting young women to hand out samples and discuss hairstyling with shoppers, L'Oreal unit Garnier stipulated women should be 18 to 22, size 38-42 (UK size 10-14) and "BBR", the initials for bleu, blanc, rouge, the colours of the French flag. It's well-known the code BBR means "white" French people and not those of north African, African and Asian backgrounds.

The company's official website features, for lack of a better word, a non-Caucasian model on the homepage. Then we clicked over to the Garnier - France website, which has a Flash intro featuring three more non-Caucasian models. When were these images put up? We can't say—elsewhere on the L'Oréal site you can find actress Penelope Cruz and singer Beyonce Knowles as spokesmodels.

At the same time, we wouldn't be surprised if the company's PR department is taking immediate steps to cover their derrières. And patch things up they must, because there's no excuse for racial discrimination in employment. It's a widespread problem, and it's not just in France. We hope this ruling sends the message that this kind of backward thinking is, quite simply, unacceptable.

Read the complete article here >>

in addition to racism, it's also 'weight-ism', as UK 10-14 is US 6-10. Not the size of the average woman in Europe, or the US, except for the very young.
The Wall Street Journal had an article about a week ago about the "new face of France", how the French modelling agencies are hiring more non-white French women, as being more representative of the French population in general. I guess this doesn't apply to make-up.
#1 maggie z on 2007-07-17 08:12 (Reply)
It certainly seems at times like the entire beauty industry is founded on discrimination, whether it's an issue of weight, height, age--you name it. We think all women desire representation in fashion magazines and ad campaigns, hence the success of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign.

Regarding the article in the Wall Street Journal, we haven't read it, but it sounds like a move in the right direction. One would hope L'Oreal's indiscretion is the exception, not the rule...
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-07-17 09:55 (Reply)
re Dove's Real Beauty Campaign. Their intentions are good but why show women in their underwear? why not just show these women in normal clothes? and the naked old women? please. they may be beautiful but why show them naked? no point in that. pushing the envelope, maybe. but there's entirely too much skin on view everywhere.
just an opinion.
remember isabella rossellini? wasn't that lancome? i forget. anyway, i was really happy to see her bcuz 1) she's over 40, 2) she's gorgeous, and 3) she's not a stick. anyway, they fired her because they wanted somebody younger.
#1.1.1 maggie z on 2007-07-17 11:59 (Reply)
We're with you--we don't want to see women completely exposed on a public billboard, whether they're 18 or 81. That said, we were touched by some of the video testimonials that we watched on YouTube from older women in the Dove campaign who really made a good case for why they did what they did. Personal choice, we suppose.
# The Budget Babe on 2007-07-19 08:06 (Reply)
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