Beyond the Pale

Beauty Bloggers Force MAC Cosmetics to Change Offensive Rodarte Collection
July 20, 2010, 11:53 am
Filed under: Beauty, Campaign, Cosmetics | Tags: , , , ,

I first heard the stirrings of the uproar on Twitter when the subject of #rodartemac started filtering through and, when I finally realised the cause of the kerfuffle, I added my own shocked tweet to the growing voices of the appalled and bewildered.

For those who aren’t aware of the situation – MAC & Rodarte had teamed up to launch a new line of cosmetics with names like Juarez, Factory, Ghost Town and Sleepwalker.

On the face of it, if you know nothing about Juarez, these are pretty standard for MAC – they are well known for their edgily or unusually named products. Usually this is quite refreshing, and if I’d seen the collection’s campaign pictures I would have been very drawn to them. It’s a look a like very much. HOWEVER (and forgive the capitals, but this is actually worth shouting about), if you know anything about Juarez AT ALL it becomes completely, utterly unacceptable to use these names.

If you haven’t heard of it, just Google the word Juarez.

…It doesn’t sit well in a bid to flog lipgloss really, does it?

Please don’t put me in a little box for the permanently shocked, someone who reels from any sort of controversy or anything out of the ordinary and feels the need to be protected from the slightest bit of unpleasantness. That’s not me at all, as any long-term reader of this blog will hopefully have realised. I even usually actively look for cosmetics or items that promote edgy styles/names, because I find them interesting and tend to gravitate toward them.

This is very different. The names aren’t edgy, they’re just in shockingly poor taste.

The first blog I read outlining the controversy was this excellent piece by Beauty Mouth, which really clearly sets out the whole issue and I highly recommend if you want to familiarise yourself with the situation.

Another very well written take on the affair is Mizz Worthy’s Stuff, again a very clear and well researched piece.

I’m not going to quote pieces from those posts, parrot fashion, as I would far rather you went and read them for yourself. A full list of beauty bloggers involved & their posts so far can be found here.

MAC cosmetics (owned by Estée Lauder, by the way) and Rodarte have bowed to the collective pressure of these various bloggers, and released the following statements:

Statement from MAC Cosmetics:

We understand that product names in the M·A·C Rodarte collection have offended our consumers and fans. This was never our intent and we are very sorry. We continue to listen carefully to the comments we have received and have the following plans to address concerns:

We are committed to donating $100,000 to a non-profit organization that has a proven, successful track-record helping women in need and that can directly improve the lives of women in Juarez in a meaningful way.

We are changing the product names in the M·A·C Rodarte collection.

As we have done in the past, please be assured that we will communicate details regarding our progress in this matter.

Statement from Rodarte:

We recognize that the violence against women taking place in Juarez needs to be met with proactive action. We never intended to make light of this serious issue and we are truly sorry.

Helping to improve the conditions for women in Juarez is a priority for us and we are thankful for all the comments calling attention to the urgency of addressing this situation.

A good result for the bloggers, I think, but it still doesn’t make it okay, does it?

Does it?

HOW did they get to this point? These are two large, multi-million dollar companies with the help of marketing, PR, lawyers and all sorts of people who should have stood up and said “Um. Yeah, this Juarez campaign… It’s maybe not such a great idea. I just Googled it and, um, well come and read about it for yourselves…”

How did this campaign, the names, the ideas, the “inspiration”, how did so many meetings go past and come out the other side with a green light, at every single stage?

What is particularly disappointing is the fact that MAC are famous for the good work they have done with their Viva Glam range, raising money and awareness for HIV/Aids charities. They are a company I was proud to buy from, because their products were witty, interesting, based around empowering women, even!

My first feelings on reading the statements had been relief that the companies were taking this seriously. Pride that the combined power of blog/Twitter posts could bring such pressure and result in action being taken.

Now, though, I feel really uneasy about the whole thing. Despite the statements (because of them, perhaps) I feel quite sick. The tone they strike makes it sound as though they were, somehow, simultaneously unaware of the atrocities being carried out against women in Juarez, and also seeming to suggest the entire campaign was the result of wanting to bring awareness about Juarez.

They can’t have their cake and eat it, I’m afraid.

I don’t buy the whole “they didn’t know” schtick. One of the products is called Factory. Even if it’s true – Best Case Scenario – let’s believe for a moment that neither of these global brands, these multi-million dollar companies knew about the implications of this range – HOW SCARY is that? How utterly gob-smackingly bewildering is it that before launching a line of cosmetics, with ads to carried around the world, that just ONE of the people involved didn’t think to do a bit of checking of the name of this actual place their collection is supposedly ‘inspired’ by.

Worst Case Scenario is that they did know, they were aware, and are now desperately scrabbling around trying to dig themselves out of this enormous hole of their own making.

Either way, I don’t think a donation of $100,000 is going to be enough to make people shut up about this.

Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that MAC & Rodarte didn’t have to change the names and donate money to charity, but honestly – how could they ever have held their heads high again after such a furore, had they not made some effort to redress the balance of bad feeling… and in that light, especially when you know that they are owned by one of the largest, wealthiest, most respected cosmetic companies in the world; that $100,00 starts to feel a bit grubby. Like hush money.

I don’t know what your feelings are on the issue – and I’d be really interested to hear them – but this still doesn’t feel right to me. As I said, it makes me feel queasy. I woke up this morning feeling really unsettled, quite shaken.I still am.

MAC, Rodarte: you should have known better. You should have. No excuses.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

As a graphic designer, I can tell you that the first step in ANY project is RESEARCH. And really, that is always the first step in ANY field of design, not just graphic design. This is ESPECIALLY true when creating a themed line of products. They knew. Ugh. That’s disgusting.

Comment by flappergirlcreations

a very well written post
you can read my view here:
and the response from mac here:


Comment by catherine

Good grief the whole horrific subject is well known even in the U.K. I read somewhere that Gael Garcia Bernal is going to make a documentary about the subject. I am sure MAC could fund the whole thing. I am no fan of MAC as I have written to them several times about the volume of the music on the concession stand in my town. I suffer from ear problems and I get terrible pain just browsing. I am 55 and wear little make-up but like to buy for my daughter. The pathetic reply didn’t impress me and nothing changed. This is appalling ,what can anyone say? However much they apologise I’d say a year in which customers boycott them would be just.

Comment by angie Cox

Hello beyond the pale

I wanted to tell you about a petition Olivia (from healingbeauty) and other bloggers involved in the Rodarte-MAC affair have put together. I know everyone is quite exhausted by the Rodarte-MAC affair this week, however we wanted to give it one last push, as I for one think they could do a lot more to help the women of Juarez.

I feel that $100,000 is not enough of a contribution from such a huge global company. I also think that changing the names will only sweep the issue under the carpet for MAC and does nothing to raise awareness of the femicides and exploitation in Juarez.

Here is the petition which explains this fully –

If you are on board, it would be wonderful if you could help spread the word.

Thank you so much

Liloo (@tsunimee on twitter)

Comment by liloo/tsunimee

I like MAC cosmetics wholesale
and I Buy good MAC cosmetics online
there have good quality Wholesale mac makeup brush set and very sex your life.

Comment by MAC cosmetics wholesale

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