Fellow black folks, our collective outrage is clearly proving very lucrative because trolls keep trolling, and fashion and beauty companies keep trying it with racially insensitive marketing. Hot on the heels of H&M’s absolutely irresponsible and boycott-inducing use of a black boy to market a sweatshirt proclaiming him the “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” Italian beauty brand Wycon Cosmetics decided to up the ante.
The Milan-based beauty company, which touts over 200,000 Instagram followers, apparently thought it’d be a great idea to name its new line of gel polishes after well-known R&B and hip-hop songs, including “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Candy Shop” and “Bootylicious.” But the company saved the most provocative for last, with its darkest nail color: a true black named “Thick as a Nigga.”
Yeah. For real, for real.
According to writer Declan Eytan for Forbes magazine, the polish name was purportedly inspired by the song “Thick Nigga” from artist DBangz—an artist with far less popularity than Wycon, but nevertheless deemed an ideal inspirational choice for the brand.
Wycon’s indelicate choice understandably—and, likely, expectedly—caused an uproar after a now-deleted Instagram post caught the attention of Afro-Italian entertainer and YouTube personality Loretta Grace, who rightly called out the brand on social media. In response to the torrent of criticism unleashed, the company was at first dismissive, telling one commenter, “They’re made-up names that are a bit crazy” (ahem, they’re not “made-up” if you use actual song names). But as outrage mounted, the company offered the type of tepid and tone-deaf response we’ve now become all too accustomed to:
We’re sorry that this post has triggered these types of reactions: every color from our Gel On collection is inspired, with a cheerful attitude and a pinch of naivety, by famous song titles, many of which derive from the landscape of hip hop . . . Wycon is the brand for everybody #nobodyexcluded is our motto and we didn’t mean to offend anybody!
Wycon has since scrubbed all Gel On nail polish names from its website, after undoubtedly getting the attention it wanted—attention we’re admittedly reluctant to add to. But in light of the well-publicized series of similar transgressions by major brands that have preceded this one, we highly doubt that the brand didn’t mean to offend. In fact, we don’t think Wycon cared at all, as evidenced by the response Loretta Grace received from the Italian beauty community, as told to Allure magazine:
My community was shocked about it . . . But most of the Italian beauty community said that I am exaggerating and that a lot of American rappers and singers like Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé say the N* word on their songs so we cannot complain about it. SMDH.
Clearly, our shock and awe has become as marketable as our culture (we’d personally love to see the brand get slapped with licensing suits for using those song names). Because in 2018, there is absolutely no excuse for this type of racial insensitivity from a cosmetics brand (or any other), other than a sheer lack of—well, you know. So it’s another day, another insult—and ultimately, we just have one less brand to check for. Because one thing obviously hasn’t hit the Italian beauty market yet, and that’s the importance of the black dollar. Bless their hearts.