Everyone knows that the beauty community has its fair share of problems. Within just the last few months, the world watched as influencers James Charles and Tati Westbrook publicly feuded over beauty supplements, Charles subsequently got caught in a harassment scandal, thousands of products from makeup mogul Jeffree Star’s warehouse got stolen and blogger Jaclyn Hill sold fans botched lipsticks. Now, the beauty community has found themselves in another problematic situation, all having to do with BeautyCon.
BeautyCon is a convention held annually in Los Angeles, New York City and Tokyo. The convention brings together beauty influencers and fans in one shared space to meet and greet and try out new products from various beauty and wellness brands. Think of it like Comic-Con, or DragCon, but for makeup.
The convention and its creators and sponsors pride themselves on diversity, inclusivity and breaking beauty norms. However, people are starting to wonder if BeautyCon is all talk and no game. Especially after popular YouTuber and body positive spokesperson, Sierra Schultzzie, shared her experience at the LA BeautyCon in early August.
The video, titled “We Were Treated Like Absolute Garbage at BeautyCon (with live footage),” opens with Schultzzie sitting in a makeup artist’s chair, excitedly chatting with her friend, Skylar Pollitt, about the upcoming day. Dressed to the nines with a bright blue smokey eye and stunning Off White velvet dress, the influencer confidently set out for her day at the famed BeautyCon.
Instead of being met with love and acceptance like one might expect, however, Schultzzie was met with hostility and disrespect. From being told that she was not “select” talent by staff despite the fact the Schultzzie was invited to the event under that title, to being mocked by fellow vloggers, the video showcases Schultzzie and Skylar’s descent from happy-go-lucky attendees hoping for a great day to feeling completely stripped of their dignity. Schultzzie even stated in the vlog, “I feel like confidence: all-time low.”
When detailing her experience, Schultzzie remarked on the many times she felt she was being looked up and down or judged by BeautyCon staff and gurus. In a way, she was being made to feel like she didn’t belong, like she wasn’t welcome.
Perhaps most telling was that this was not the first time BeautyCon failed to live up to its billing of inclusivity. Last year, Schultzzie spoke out about a similar situation. While waiting in line for the photobooth like all invited talents are supposed to, she experienced another disrespectful and hostile encounter with a fellow Beauty vlogger. Not to mention, her photos from the day were never posted, despite the fact that almost all the other influencers’ photos were. This led Schultzzie to believe that she did something wrong, like she didn’t have the right attire or the right makeup look to fit in with BeautyCon’s standards.
This feeling of inadequacy was made even stronger when another influencer essentially questioned how Schultzzie was allowed to be invited as talent, implying that her looks were insufficient to warrant being invited to the event.
The fact of the matter is, there is no room for body-shaming and judging people based on what they look like in 2019. In an era where body positivity is at an all-time high, and clothing brands and mainstream media are beginning to promote that all bodies are beautiful and worthy, what is BeautyCon, and the beauty community as a whole, doing being stuck in the old mindset?
One could argue that perhaps the convention itself isn’t necessarily the bad guy in this situation. It’s true, BeautyCon does champion diversity and inclusivity, as many of their panel guests are both beauty icons and activists for various communities. So instead, Schultzzie’s experience could be chalked up to a few rude employees or catty influencers. In this case, one would still think that BeautyCon would apologize for the way Schultzzie was treated, especially because they want everyone to feel confident and included, right? Well, not exactly. BeautyCon did release a statement in the form of a livestream on Instagram as a response to Schultzzie’s situation, but some fans are arguing that it could hardly be called an apology.
In the livestream, the BeautyCon staff can be seen clapping for themselves and congratulating their team on a job well done. They also stated that they disagree with Schultzzie’s video, going as far to label it as “fake news.” Instead of acknowledging what Schultzzie went through, the statement BeautyCon made invalidates the feelings she was experiencing during and after the convention. Because of this, Schultzzie, Pollitt and any other attendee that had a negative experience at BeautyCon were made to feel even more embarrassed.
Nobody should have to feel uncomfortable in their own skin — especially when they are in a space that is labeled as inclusive and accepting, and meant to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. “They act like it’s all about inclusivity,” Schultzzie stated in her video, “but at the end of the day, if you don’t have their look, you will not be treated like a real person. And that’s not real inclusivity.”
Schultzzie’s statement perfectly encapsulates the deeper problem within the beauty community. One can talk about inclusivity all they want, but until one’s actions prove true acceptance of all kinds of individuals and make people feel welcome and confident, then it cannot be called inclusivity.
The issue Schultzzie faced wasn’t the only BeautyCon-related problem the internet was buzzing about. Popular YouTube channel TeaSpill released a video detailing a situation in which one invited influencer bullied another invited influencer about his eating disorder. When this issue was brought up to BeautyCon, the organization absurdly decided that both bloggers had to apologize to each other if they wanted to attend. Neither of the gurus ended up apologizing, and the one who was bullied was not permitted to come to the event while the bully himself was.
This is yet another example of the toxicity that can be found within the beauty community which, in this situation, was reflected within the convention. As society is becoming more aware of the effects of bullying and exclusivity, it is crucial that all communities, especially fan bases like the beauty community where so many kinds of people wish to be involved and represented, practice kindness and acceptance.
As the positivity movement continues to progress, one can only hope that various groups and fandoms continue to embrace the change more and more. But for now, it looks as though the beauty community still has a long way to go.