Dissertation Proposal Draft 2

“An exploration on how social media is changing the beauty industry in regards to the lack of representation of black women shown in advertising ”

The cosmetic industry is mainly known for setting the standard of beauty for our society. In spite of this ,the very definition of beauty has remained narrow and discriminatory, a fault for which the industry has been criticized for over the years.

Historically, the beauty community has not had a platform where women of colour could vocalize their beauty frustrations, now, through the use of social media, they can. Social media and online platforms make it easier to create outlets for black women to see themselves in different areas and celebrate their beauty. Instagram, a social media platform, showcases an array of black beauty and positive engagements between account holders.


The awareness created by social media about issues surrounding representations forces beauty brands to change their tactics and make strides towards change. Lancome, signed Lupita Nyongo as the brand beauty ambassador, a women who is very vocal about her African heritage and fully embraces her natural beauty. Rihanna released a cosmetics line called “Fenty beauty” in 2017, which was an instant success and resonated so much with women of colour, as it shade range included 40 shades of foundation.

Brand are now beginning to extend and embrace other shades.  Now, any brand that seems to be launching anything less than Fenty is considered to be “slacking”. With that being said, the issue is really not about foundations but about representation and equality in the media and in products, which the industry still hasn’t grasp.


A recent study by the Institute of the practitioners in advertising, estimate that black British women spend up to £4.8 billion on beauty products and hair treatments, that is almost six times more than their white counterparts. However, even with such an impressive spend, black women remain drastically under-represented in the beauty industry. In 2016,Superdrug, a highstreet cosmetic and drug store, reported that 70% of black and asian women in the UK feel that high street stores do not portray or cater to their beauty needs.


My dissertation will be exploring the lack of representation in media for women of colour when it comes to the beauty industry and how social media has helped in make changes for the future.  I will be investigating various research questions(below) and weighing up the impact it has on black women.


Research Questions:

How has “Social Media” and its platforms helped women of colour to pressurize the beauty industry to become more inclusive ?

What is the current standard of beauty and how does this standard impact black women?

Do cosmetic brands really care about representation/equality for black British women or is it all for financial gain ?

Research paper/journals/articles:


  • Fetto, F. (2019). The beauty industry is still failing black women | Funmi Fetto. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/sep/29/funmi-fetto-happy-in-my-skin-beauty-industry-diversity [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019]
  • Banks, I. (2000). Hair matters : beauty, power, and Black women’s consciousness. New York : New York University Press.
  • Evans, P. C., & McConnell, A. R. (2003). Do racial minorities respond in the same way to mainstream beauty standards? Social comparison processes in Asian, Black, and White women. Self & Identity, 2(2), 153-167.
  • Gleason-Allured, J. (2016). Is the beauty industry listening to multicultural consumers? People of color face difficulties in finding the right products, creating both frustration and new innovation. Global Cosmetic Industry, 184(4), 42-46.
  • Muller, M.G. (2017, September 19). How Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Is Ushering in a New Era of Inclusivity in the Beauty Industry. W Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.wmagazine.com/story/how-rihanna-fenty-beauty-changing-beauty-industry.

– Wilson, C.C. & Gutierrez, F. (1995). Advertising and people of color. In Dines G. & Humez, J. (Ed.), Gender, Race, Class in Media: A text-reader (pp. 283-292). Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.


– Nast, C. (2016). Social Media Is Taking the Beauty Industry By Storm. [online] Allure. Available at: https://www.allure.com/story/social-media-impact-on-beauty-industry# [Accessed 31 Oct. 2019].

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