Nikita Richardson
April 23, 2016 8:38 am
Twitter

Mac Cosmetics has long been lauded for how early and how often it catered to people of color, providing them with makeup that fit their unique skincare needs long before big-name brands caught on. Accordingly, Mac is one of the most successful makeup brands out there. But even Mac can make a misstep and, this time, they’ve made a mistake that may take their customers a long time to forgive or forget.

This week, the cosmetics company quietly announced the impending arrival of Vibe Tribe, a new line of makeup inspired by “art, outdoor music festivals, and the colors of the desert,” or so a spokesperson for the company told Refinery29. But many Mac fans quickly realized that this new slew of products — which feature models wearing feathers in their hair and donning coral and turquoise makeup — are nothing more then the most recent case of cultural appropriation.

The relationship between Native American culture and music festival culture has been fraught for a long, long time as more people deem wearing Native American dress to be nothing more than low-key racism and appropriation. Accordingly, people who have long thought of Mac as one of the more inclusive makeup brands have begun openly criticizing the company.

We don’t know when this weird attraction among brands to the aesthetic of indigenous tribes will end, but the consensus is pretty clear: Conveniently copping parts of Native American culture for your brand’s bottom line is offensive and short-sighted. Either involve the people from which the inspiration is drawn, or don’t appropriate at all. It’s as simple as that.

We’ll give the final word to Reddit user beanieandpeach:

“My personal history is tribal, and it’s not just a cute design for me, it’s my fucking culture. And my culture is dying, my people are dying, and it’s because of a history of mass genocide and forced sterilization and plagues and poverty and broken treaties — and it actually hurts to imagine that someday, the word ‘tribe’ might live on on the faceplate of some MAC cosmetic, long after the last native speaker of the Nimiípuu is gone.”

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