The MAC Aaliyah line, A Black Female Perspective

Admittedly, my heart dropped in happiness when I saw the late and great Aaliyah’s face in an email a few weekends ago. The email was from MAC, announcing their Aaliyah inspired makeup line. To many black female millenials like myself, Aaliyah was the epitome of natural black beauty. Her hair was long, black, thick, and gorgeous. Her skin was brown, her face youthful, her soul seasoned with the wisdom of an age she would never attain in number. Aaliyah was a beautiful girl inside and out, who seemed did not seem tainted or motivated by money or fame, Aaliyah seemed to genuinely love what she was doing. She was a young black woman who exuded  the essence of black female allure–a natural sex appeal, talent, and liyahgrace  not duplicated in or after her time on earth. She was one in a million, yet MAC attempted to counter this fact in resurrecting her memory for profit. 

Now, I anticipate that many will counter my response in pointing to Rashad Haughton, Aaliyah’s brother, cosigning the project. This, however, does not negate MAC’s motives. MAC’s motives are not to honor Aaliyah’s legacy or heal the wounds of her family. MAC’s goals are to make money off her memory, a memory enhanced with an authenticity only Rashad (or her parents) could bring to the project.

Thus,  the Aaliyah line by MAC is one of deprivation. Let us not forget that black women remain an afterthought to a beauty industry that sells, not lauds black beauty.   Black beauty brands like Mented, and Gold Label Cosmetics have come to claim the black consumer, an act MAC  retaliates in aiming to usurp the black producer. Specifically, MAC feels the heat and resurrects one of our angels to lure the black female body back into the lion’s den of consuming white products.

For those of us hurt, and acquainted with the harsh reality of mortality in hearing of Aaliyah-08Aaliyah’s death as preteens and teenagers, a chance to reacquaint herself with her essence seems tempting. However, her essence never left us. Buying a MAC lipstick won’t bring her back, and is not a means to pay homage to a starlet gone too soon. The videos and postings of beauty vloggers featuring the products support a veiled truth— Aaliyah was never the muse for MAC’s latest business venture. No, the muse remains the white female buyer that the company was designed to make beautiful. However, this pseudo homage to the 90s unveils that all the beauty industry creates is ugliness, an ugliness that continues to engender violence onto the black collective. aaliyahbandana.jpg

Simply put, this Aaliyah Mac line is a violent attempt to exploit another black body. It is yet another attempt to cast the dark body into a dollar sign. Simply put, the black female body will never be more than money to an industry that seeks to ensure that the white female body remains the standard of beauty. So when we say “one in a million,” all our oppressors heard was “million,” fomenting their effort to rock a boat heading towards a peace not granted in life, and as illustrated by this recent gesture, death. 

May this performative act of homage, function as a harbinger of the fear induced by black production.  

Black Power ❤


5 Comments Add yours

  1. KelsieLou says:

    Well written. I’m a family dollar type of make up girl. Rarely will I splurge on a $20 mascara, etc. This post gives a new perspective on how brands will use the face of a strong black woman for profit while the pain behind that blackness is ignored.

  2. I gave up cosmetics decades ago! And even back then, I was in the dollar section. So, they’ll not get any money from this Black woman and quite frankly, I still have to beat the men off with a stick. So going natural, is ALL it’s cracked up to be!

    Thanks for posting this! Whites, Koreans, Pakistanis, and Chinese should have to damn near drag half a penny out of us! We certainly should not be so willing to part with our money and give it to them, the thankless lot!

    1. EttaD says:

      Wished there was an option to ‘like’ your comment.

  3. I think we all have reflect on missed opportunities. I have one I think about every once in awhile. Way back in 1997,when I was a much younger man. My cousin was going to get tickets to the new late night show,Vibe. It was the new show named after the urban magazine. He was going to get tickets for me and some other family members. He had the chance to get tickets for the premiere week. I had a prior engagement and told him to get tickets for the second week instead. I went the second week and had a great time. The host was comedian Chris Spencer. The guests were comedian Steve Harvey,actress Mira Sorvino and rapper Scarface. This was during the time Steve had the sitcom The Steve Harvey show. Some of the cast were seating three rows ahead of me. I saw actors Merlin Santana(RIP),Wendy Robinson,Terri Vaughn and Cedric the Entertainer. During a commercial break Spencer said he had a special guest backstage. He brought out the legendary…..James Brown! He just came out and said hi to everyone. It was pretty cool to see him. Later I was talking to my cousin and he told he had a great time. Although he said he kind of wished we went the first week instead. I asked him why is that. He said we could’ve gotten tickets to see Aaliyah. I said……Wow!!! That would’ve really been cool to see her live like that. I’ve always regretted missing that chance to see her.
    This post was a great tribute CC! Baby girl would be proud! 🙂

  4. kelley says:

    I agree with you. From when MAC first became popular amongst girls and women I knew, I could identify it by how bright and sometimes clownish it appeared on our tones. They have definitely stepped up their game, BUT like you said, it’s to reign its Black customers back in to get their numbers back up and nothing more. Great piece.

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