Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Rihanna's Fenty Beauty drops Geisha Chic bronzer after social media outcry

Critics were divided on the name, with some saying the product demeans the rich culture of Japan's geishas, and others saying it glorifies the suppression of the group

Rihanna was in Dubai teaching a masterclass for her brand Fenty Beauty. Reem Mohammed / The National
Rihanna was in Dubai teaching a masterclass for her brand Fenty Beauty. Reem Mohammed / The National

There’s no denying that it was Rihanna’s Fenty that catapulted the term inclusive beauty into the spotlight with its promise of “boundary-breaking shades for women of all races”.

The brand has been credited with enabling many women to find their shade of foundation and other make-up for the very first time. Ironically, Fenty last week found itself in trouble owing not to a shade it got wrong, but a name assigned to one of its products: the Geisha Chic bronzer.

Several users on Twitter and Instagram termed the moniker offensive to Asian and Japanese culture, even as others defended it.

The critics followed two lines of thought: some said the name undermined the cultural importance of geishas, who are distinctive for their elaborate costumes and make-up; others pointed out that geishas were often forced into the profession, with its connotations of sexuality and prostitution.

Meanwhile, many came to Fenty's defence, stating it was merely celebrating the artistic culture of the group.

Either way, Fenty promptly delayed the launch, and reportedly issued a personal apology to one user, saying: "We hear you, we have pulled the product until it can be renamed. We want to personally apologise. Thank you so much for educating us."

Updated: April 4, 2019 04:20 PM

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