How The Beauty Industry Can Be An Ally During Pride Month 2022
This June, you’re bound to see a lot of company logos turn rainbow for Pride Month 2022. You’re also likely to see a wide range of ads geared towards Pride Month 2022, specifically from the beauty industry.
- Pride Month is a commemorative month celebrated in the month of June to reflect the impact of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and honor the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history.
- As a marketing strategy for Pride, a lot of companies simply make their logos rainbow for the month or release rainbow packaging, which is known as rainbow-washing.
- Listening, responding, and acting on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community is much needed in the beauty industry to address the underrepresentation issue, especially when it comes to gay, trans, and non-binary people of color.
Is it Enough?
During Pride Month, the commemorative Month that amplifies and celebrates LGBTQ+ folks, it’s a good time to reflect on the ads you see during the rest of the year. Are they representing the LGBTQ+ community beyond Pride Month 2022? Likely, you’ll find that the beauty industry isn’t doing enough to represent the LGBTQ+ community in their messaging and marketing beyond Pride Month.
This begs the question: how can the beauty industry be an ally during pride Month 2022 and beyond? Consumers, especially Gen Z consumers, want and need more inclusive advertising that recognizes and celebrates the beauty in the LGBTQ+ community all year round. There are clear issues in the beauty industry when it comes to representation, not only of different cultures and races but of gender identities as well, as there seems to be a severe lack of representation for non-binary and trans beauty enthusiasts today.
While representation is a topic that spurs different opinions on how to rectify the issues, there are clear ways the beauty industry can be an ally during Pride Month 2022.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is a commemorative month, similar to Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Black History Month, that is celebrated in the month of June to honor and recognize the LGBTQ+ community and the community’s fight for rights and representation in the U.S. and beyond. Pride Month, often shortened to Pride, is celebrated in the month of June to reflect the impact of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which served as a significant tipping point for the LGBTQ+ liberation movement (1).
Originally, Pride was celebrated during the last Sunday in June, but soon, major cities across the nation elongated Pride Day to a month-long series of events. Now, Pride is globally recognized and Pride events attract millions across the globe to participate and celebrate the impact and contributions that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history. The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970 – the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – and garnered three to five thousand marchers (1).
With the numbers now increased to the millions, it’s clear that both LGBTQ+ folks and allies are not backing down from societal attempts to erase LGBTQ+ representation or stigmatize the community. Decades of work has been done to encourage LGBTQ+ youth and elders to celebrate their identities with pride. There has been a greater push for LGBTQ+ representation during Pride Month 2022 and throughout the year, including a push in the beauty industry.
LGBTQ+ Representation Issues in the Beauty Industry
During Pride every year, consumers and inundated with brands taking a surface approach to LGBTQ+ representation. As a marketing strategy for Pride, a lot of companies simply turn to making their logos rainbow for the month or putting out rainbow-colored packaging and calling it a day. This is known as “rainbow-washing”.
Whether these brands realize it or not, consumers can see right through performance, as it becomes increasingly evident which brands are LGBTQ+ allies or not by their actions. Do these brands include LGBTQ+ folks in their marketing outside of Pride? Do they donate their profits to anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives despite their rainbow logo and hope you won’t notice? These are markings of performative ally-ship, and consumers are steadily demanding more from the brands receiving their money.
While some brands are attempting to make an effort with representation by promoting their “gender-neutral” products, they simply aren’t doing enough in 2022. According to Vogue Business, “gender-neutral” beauty content from influencers increased by 35 percent over 2021, but engagement dropped by 9 percent, as social media users are preferring to engage with content and products that specifically represent them. This includes content that includes more specific terms such as “transgender beauty” or “non-binary beauty”, as both of these topics saw engagement rise more than 50 percent in 2021 (2).
While labels aren't always productive or true, many people deeply identify with their chosen labels and use them as indicators of self. Beauty brands that stop at gender neutrality run the risk of erasing all types of beauty enthusiasts by grouping them under one umbrella term. With more than 12 percent of American millennials identifying as transgender or non-binary and 59 percent of Gen Z Americans believing that gender is a spectrum, these brands need to meet their consumers where they’re at and vastly improve their ally-ship to the LGBTQ+ community (2).
Some other clear issues the beauty industry has when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation include:
- Non-inclusive messaging. For example, are they only using the terms “for men” or “for women”?
- Reinforcing stereotypes
- Not doing enough to promote education, elevate LGBTQ+ voices, or donate to organizations that uplift and protect LGBTQ+ people
- Not including LGBTQ+ individuals in campaigns, adverts, or brand ambassadorships besides modeling
- Not compensating LGBTQ+ creators the same as heterosexual or cis creators when promoting on social media, especially when LGBTQ+ beauty influencers are setting the trends
How to Be an Ally During Pride Month 2022
Commitment to inclusion is the smartest decision that brands can make to be allies during Pride Month 2022. Consumers’ eyes are wide open, and they can recognize when a brand is putting the LGBTQ+ community at risk and not making progress toward equality.
There are too many brands that try to fool their customer base with rainbow logos while donating money to anti-LGBTQ+ bills and initiatives on the side (*cough* Disney donating money to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida *cough*). The brands that take a stand for change in the beauty industry and can be trusted by their consumers are seven times more likely to be purchased, as they represent a community instead of their own interests (2).
Too often, LGBTQ+ individuals are included in Pride marketing campaigns or other campaigns as a form of tokenization. With so few companies having a clear approach to diversity and inclusion, it’s time for beauty brands to take a proactive stance and be sincere in their marketing. This means including individuals that represent all areas of the LGBTQ+ community in their product lines and marketing, and not just in the month of June.
Inclusivity should be a core principle of these beauty brands and should be reflected in more than just marketing. Look at the workforce and decision makers, too. LGBTQ+ individuals need a voice and crucial involvement in the product/brand management. Listening, responding, and acting on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community is a necessity in the beauty industry to address the underrepresentation issue, especially when it comes to gay, trans, and non-binary people of color.
There is a plethora of LGBTQ+ - owned beauty brands on the market today that deserve your support this Pride Month 2022, including:
- NOTO Botanics
- Volition Beauty
- Sigil Scent
- W3ll People
- KimChi Chic Beauty
- Trixie Cosmetics
- Malin + Goetz
- Kiss My Face
- Flower Beauty
- Alder New York
- Thrive Natural Care
- Kaleidoscope Hair Care
- Peace Out Skincare
- Dragun Beauty
- Trademark Beauty
- Freck Beauty
- Beekman 1802
- Ghost Democracy
- Pause Well-Aging
- Boy Smells
- Jason Wu Beauty
- Jecca Blac
- Non Gender Specific
- Empower BodyCare
- STARRING by Ted Gibson
- Jordan Samuel Skin
- Elysian Cosmetics
- Hi Beautiful You
- Mizz Bloom Organics
- Bellasonic Beauty
Written by Selena Ponton