The Beauty Industry Is Ignoring This Big Problem


Yesterday the web was abuzz about Christian Louboutin’s groundbreaking new beauty campaign starring plus-size model Clémentine Desseaux as the new face of the luxury line. Linking back to an article on The Daily Mail, sites including Jezebel, Bustle, Huffington Post U.K., Fashionista, and countless more reported the same incorrect story. But the outpouring of support and excitement surrounding the false claims that Desseaux was cast in Louboutin’s campaign beg the question: Why aren’t fuller-figured women being cast in beauty campaigns?

The 15-second video Desseaux posted five weeks ago features her smiling and flirting with the camera while wearing Louboutin’s $90 lipstick, specifically Rouge Velvet Matte (in case you wanted to snag one for yourself). The charming clip was shared on Christian Louboutin’s Instagram page, @LouboutinWorld, last week, but it was never promoted as an official campaign. “Clémentine Desseaux was gifted a lipstick and she was so excited that she posted a video on her Instagram,” explains a rep for Christian Louboutin. “LouboutinWorld loved the clip and reposted, much like many other Instagram users’ content — lip or otherwise.”

With the exception of CoverGirl’s advertisements featuring the mega-talented Queen Latifah and MAC's collab with Beth Ditto, to our knowledge no other well-known beauty brand has ever tapped a plus-size woman to be the face of a campaign, let alone a high-end label like Louboutin.

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Photo: Courtesy of Clémence Desseaux/Thomas Babeau.

The idea of freckle-faced Desseaux fronting such an iconic company clearly inspired fervor in the masses, as shown by the slew of erroneous articles, social media posts, and positive comments. “From responses of the audience and people commenting on it, I believe that people were really excited to see something different — a non-photoshopped video, featuring an everyday woman,” muses Desseaux about the "news."

Aside from the question of journalistic integrity, the biggest takeaway we had from this confusion is that people are excited about the prospect of a fuller figured woman being cast in a major beauty campaign. Fashion has at least made an effort, but the beauty world remains a desert when it comes to plus-size representation. The support appears to be there, so why aren’t we seeing more brands casting plus women? Desseaux offers, “Maybe brands don't feel the need to change their imagery because their customer is already purchasing their product. However, I think it’s something that their customer would really appreciate and notice. Hopefully more brands will take the chance.” We challenge more brands to start thinking critically about the models they use to portray what is "beautiful."

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