Rebecca Willink is the Melbourne woman leading a grassroots movement to end make-up discrimination in Australia.
Tired of having to pay more for similar products than those with fairer skin, Willink launched an online petition and social media campaign demanding that women of colour no longer be excluded from accessing affordable make-up in their skin tone.
Willink’s movement has been gathering steady momentum since its inception, gathering more than 6000 signatures from community members who want retailers to make the space for an inclusive range of make-up shades that truly represents the diversity of Australians.
“The response since starting the campaign has been overwhelming,” Willink said.
“Hearing similar stories and experiences that so many people of colour have had to endure has fueled the campaign and demonstrated that there is an obvious and urgent need for change.”
Tangible changes are coming to Australian make-up shelves
Willink’s campaign was initially met with generic statements from retailers, acknowledging the need for more diversity, but not committing to any tangible action.
Determined not to be derailed, Willink kept fighting for her cause, gathering support from people across the country.
“This petition has been about making the voices of all Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) heard and giving them a platform for doing so,” she said.
“It’s been great to have had so much support from so many people, many of whom I have never met in real life but are now friends.”
Willink eventually received a meaningful response from Coles and Woolworths, informing her that they would be offering a broader range of a particular Maybelline foundation, though only on a trial basis to assess demand and gather sales data.
Woolworths’ launched their expanded make-up range in late August, adding 31 skin tones to their stock of Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless foundation.
While this is a promising step in the right direction, the expanded range is only available for online orders, and only within Melbourne and Sydney.
This still fails to address the inequitable experience of purchasing make-up, as women of colour are unable to assess the skin tone match in store themselves and must instead rely on product photos online.
Coles took their response one step further, expanding their range of Maybelline foundation shades online and in ten stores across Australia.
Despite both stores only committing to temporary solutions, Willink was encouraged by these small but significant steps in the right direction.
“For too long, Australians with skin colours deemed ‘too dark’ or ‘too light’ to be worth catering for have been excluded and neglected,” she said.
“These trials may seem like a minor step, but the impact will be significant for individuals who have been ostracised for decades. This month, for the first time in Australia, a person with brown or black skin will be able to purchase make-up that suits their skin tone in a supermarket.”