Moroccan Spice Ain’t So Nice

Posted by @fentybeauty on Instagram

While Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty products have received a lot of positive feedback regarding their inclusiveness in both their shades and branding, it seems as though the release of Rihanna’s latest eyeshadow palette, Moroccan Spice, has uncharacteristically left out one important demographic: the very demographic it’s inspired by.

The palette features matte earth tones, vibrant pops of gold, deep reds, purples and a teal shimmer. Some of Youtube’s famous beauty and makeup reviewers, such as Jeffree Star, love this palette’s pigmented application. On the other hand, others, such as Nyma Tang, thought the palette could’ve benefited from tones more conducive to darker skin.

This palette has continued to do well since its launch, however, the 30 second advertisement that accompanied the eyeshadows has received serious criticism. The ad did include women of color, but not one Moroccan. This made the sentiment even worse, especially among women in the Moroccan and Arab community.

Posted by @hoodcouturemag on Twitter

The ad was set to Arab music with models depicted next to a camel in the desert. Moroccans took to Instagram with lots to say about the “orientalist lens” and shades of “cheap Arab tokenism” that the ad portrayed. While Rihanna’s depiction of Morocco was clearly meant to be a flattering and inspired representation of the culture and country, the reflection of this on her brand did not fit the bill for consumers.

Though it has received this backlash, which has come predominantly from the Arab community, it has not stopped the sales and endorsement of the palette by famous beauty bloggers and vloggers, like those mentioned above. Because this issue has not been addressed by a majority of the beauty world, the controversy ironically seems to be more ‘white-washed’ than ever. Even the names of some of the swatches such as, “marrakush,” “souq it to me” and “nuts and dates” have been accused of ripping off a stereotype and disregarding true Moroccan culture, profiting from brazen cultural appropriation.

Some, however, had a different perspective that Rihanna used the same images and aesthetic that Morocco uses for its own tourism, and that the brand was inspired by the spice, Moroccan spice, not Moroccan culture.

Rihanna has not explicitly addressed this, and unfortunately, it almost seems as though she doesn’t have to. The beauty world, overall, has received this palette extremely well, and the internet is buzzing with excitement over Fenty Beauty products in general as Rihanna produces hit after hit from inclusive foundation shades to beautifully blinding highlighters.

Does the fact that Rihanna has not had to comment on the controversy surrounding this palette have to do with a larger cultural issue that disregards others under the veil of ‘inspiration,’ or is this an overreaction that aims to disenfranchise innocent interpretation and creative license?


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