Why is the beauty industry still failing people with disabilities?

Beauty brands are more inclusive than ever, but the world's largest minority group are being left behind when it comes to product launches and representation

Selma Blair has been praised for representing the disabled community on the red carpet (Image: via Getty)

The word you can’t currently escape in the world of beauty marketing? ‘Inclusive’. At the time of writing, Google searches for ‘inclusive beauty’ have increased by 300% over the past five years.

Meanwhile, a study by Shutterstock revealed 88% of marketers believe that using inclusive images helps a brand’s reputation, and an exclusive survey by Cosmetics Business found 83.2% of British women think cosmetic brands were more inclusive in 2019.

On top of the positive ethical impact, it’s not surprising that brands are being more inclusive – after all, it’s good for business. One of the biggest launches of recent years has been Fenty Beauty. It’s inclusive messaging has turned the Rihanna and LVMH partnership into a US$3bn operation, while Superdrug’s Shade of Beauty campaign helped the retailer boost sales of its people of colour category by 80%. But is beauty really that inclusive?

Seemingly every week there is a brand launch ‘celebrating’ plus-sized women, ethnic minorities or the LGBT+ community. But in the pursuit of inclusivity, . . .

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