Sometimes things will catch your eye on social media and get you hooked for hours looking at posts, responses to posts and re-tweets. This happened for me a couple of weeks ago. Urban Decay pushed out some new make-up and did the usual swatching of said make-up on a models arm. The particular imagery used by the big make-up brand caused some controversy amongst people on social media. The company took a huge backlash from people all over the globe stating that it was distasteful and difficult for people to look at who were struggling with or who had struggled with self-harm. It didn’t help that the product was called ‘Razor Sharp’ and so the image teamed with the words, really did put Urban Decay in a sticky situation. If you haven't see the picture and feel strong and able enough to look at it, it can be found here **trigger warning** only look if you can.
This got us thinking at SelfharmUK about the use of images in general, but also the lack of thought that is still given to self-harm in the world of branding and marketing. It is a clear sign that self-harm does not appear on people’s radar and is still something that is missed. Lots of people took to twitter and told Urban Decay in no uncertain terms that for them, this had felt triggering and upsetting.
I really thought we were getting somewhere with understanding that names and pictures have an effect on people and if we are going to brand something we have to ensure we think this through. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE make-up and I understand that the arm is where swatching is done, but the thin lines, the name of the brand and the lack of sensitivity towards people is quite frankly upsetting. Urban Decay have remained ignorant to both current and past self-harmers and have to this point not given a clear and appropriate apology.
We need to be challenging brands, marketing moguls, products and anyone with influence that people are sore and people are hurting. We need to make people aware that self-harm affects a lot of people and the things we say, do, post and write about can cause people distress and discomfort.
I contacted Urban Decay for a comment to this post I said this;
Hi I am the project manager of a charity called SelfharmUK and am emailing to see if someone will give me a response to the recent image and eyeliner name that caused an outcry on twitter. I am in the process of writing a piece for our website and think it would be right if I included a comment, apology or response from yourselves. The image and the name of the product have left current and ex self-harmers feeling upset by the post and as of yet I am unaware if you have issued an apology. I would be interested in talking to you about this more and looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks
I am yet to have a response, but be sure to know this. As a charity we will never stop calling people to account on things that are triggering for people, that cause them distress around self-harm and we will continue to be an advocate for any issues on this topic.