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Sephora's Controversial 'Druggie' Eyeshadow

Updated on January 24, 2017
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Recent Sale: Huge Backlash

Sephora is probably one of the most popular makeup companies in the business world today, but it could use a lesson or two in marketing after a nice shade of purple eyeshadow was marketed under the name "Druggie."

If there was any one product that could have alienated a significant amount of consumers, this would be it. It wouldn't matter who released the product; releasing it under the name Druggie shows a serious lack of social intelligence.

“We deeply apologize to anyone who was offended by the name of this shade. We would never seek to do that. The shade was in a limited edition palette and was not planned to be re-ordered,” a representative from Sephora said through a release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 500 young people die daily from drug addiction-related illnesses. There are also dead bodies turning up in emergency rooms every 15 minutes as a result of drug addiction.

Certainly this would be indicative of the drug epidemic that has plagued North America for countless years. Canada has also struggled with drug addiction over the years, with certain regions struggling more than others with the problem. Sephora putting out the "Druggie" eyeshadow through its Urban Decay line may have earned some rave reviews, but it demonstrates incredible insensitivity to the drug problems that plague North America.

The term "Druggie" used within the context of the Urban Decay line might refer to the company tag: "Created by makeup junkies, for makeup junkies." An addiction to makeup notwithstanding, it's been believed for some time that the United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and to tag a makeup with the term "Druggie" is highly stigmatizing for those suffering with addiction.

The term, of course, generally refers to those who are addicted to illegal drugs or at the very use use illegal drugs regularly. Older people might recall the "heroin chic" of the 1990s that was popularized through various fashion and makeup lines, and certainly, the models of the time epitomized that. The term faded from use in part due to the backlash as a result of the term, and "druggie" is no better as a label for a makeup.

The weird thing is, this is not the first time that drug-oriented fashion has hit stores recently. In October 2016, Nordstrom decided to carry Moschino's "Capsule" collection, featuring a $950 purse shaped like a pill, a dress with fashion prescriptions printed on it and a marketing campaign that riffed on the "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980s. Nordstrom received such a backlash that it ultimately announced that it was pulling the line from its stores.

People who deal with addiction, either themselves or peripherally through a family member's addiction, experience enough stigma without even more added. Addiction is a personal experience, and no two people have shared the exact same experience. What is common, however, is the desire to keep people unaware about it, and all the "Druggie" eyeshadow does is further stigmatize those who are addicted.

Granted, Sephora is a makeup line that is not generally that affordable for most; in the case of the "Druggie" eyeshadow, it's part of a color palette that includes shades such as Alter, Supersonic, Prince and Lounge. It's ironic that the shade seated next to "Druggie" is called Backfire. It retails for about $50, which puts it just out of reach for quite a large segment of the population.

To be sure, Sephora did not think the addition of this particular shade from Urban Decay through very well. Most companies realize that there are certain sensitivities you have to be aware of when marketing a product, and while "heroin chic" may have worn well once 20-plus years ago, the shade has faded and been replaced with people who deserve more respect than a shade of makeup branded with a somewhat derogatory label.

Sephora's Response

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Why Respect Addicts?

People may initially question the terms "respect" and "addict" being used in the same sentence, but there is a sort of logic behind it. People don't start off with the intent of becoming an addict. Ask anyone who is coffee addicted - they didn't think they'd be hooked on caffeine as quickly as they did get hooked. They may be socially drinking on an increasingly regular basis, or someone passes them a bong at a party, and then after a number of experiences, they may find themselves addicted - there's something about the substance they are using that gives them something that they somehow "need" that they may not be able to get anyplace else, in their belief.

Addicts who can't break the cycle of addiction as yet are strong enough to know that they need to change - they just may not realize or admit that they need help as yet. There's a certain respect that needs to be given to addicts just for their continued will to survive from one day to the next, as being a drug addict does carry with it certain inherent dangers, whether it's from the crowd the addict might be associated with, or from the lifestyle associated with addiction.

When an addict finally admits that they need help, and they reach out, that takes serious courage. It's also not something that is just "overcome" and left in the past. An addict who kicks his or her habit will forever be an addict. The addict carries that label of "addict" with them for their entire life. They don't need to be reminded of their burden of addiction with a product insensitively labelled "druggie."

It will be interesting to see what Sephora - or Urban Decay - decides to do beyond not ordering the limited edition palette further. The public deserves better and those who have had experience with addiction need more respect.

The Media Weighs In

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