I have been debating writing this post for about a week now, but after seeing so much controversy over MAC’s new Vibe Tribe collection I decided to share my thoughts on the collection and the culture appropriation debate.
Before I begin, I really love MAC products and the brand as a whole. However their new collection is something that I can’t get on board with and I’d like to explain why. If you haven’t heard, they are releasing a new make-up collection called “Vibe Tribe” which is supposedly inspired by music festivals such as Coachella.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of negativity floating around this collection on the internet. Buzzfeed made a video about it and every Instagram post featuring the collection has comments that are full of arguments about whether or not the collection is appropriating the culture of Southwestern Native Americans. People don’t seem to understand the harm of culture appropriation or they don’t understand how this collection could be perceived as appropriating culture.
The Vibe Tribe collection includes two eyeshadow quads, “Call of the Canyon” and “Wild Horses”. It has five lipsticks, Tanarama, Arrowhead, Hot Chocolate, Pure Vanity and Painted Sunset. Arrowhead and Painted Sunset are new shades created specifically for the collection, while Tanarama is a permanent shade and Pure Vanity and Hot Chocolate are repromotes. There are also five lip pencils, Teen Dream being a repromote and Tumbleweed, Caravamp, Desert Evening, and Rio Grande Romance being new. Two new blushes and one permanent one are also a part of the collection, Modern Mandarin being the permanent and Adobe Brick and Painted Canyon being the new items. There are a few other products in the collection like brushes and make-up bags, all of the products featuring a beige, turquoise, coral and brown tribal print.
I can’t be the only one who doesn’t see how this collection is inspired by music festivals, can I? Everything from the product names to the packaging seems inspired by Native American culture, yet MAC claims it isn’t. They could’ve named their new products literally anything else but they chose names like Arrowhead, Wild Horses and Adobe Brick, which don’t have anything to do with music festivals.
It would be one thing if MAC had collaborated with a Native American artist to create this collection, or at least admitted it was inspired by desert tribes, but they didn’t and that is an issue called culture appropriation. Culture appropriation is “the unauthorized use of elements from a culture by members of a different culture”. This is different from cultural diffusion, which includes things like learning another language, eating food from another culture, or being invited to take part in a cultural tradition by members of the culture.
To me this is harmful because MAC is giving white culture the credit for something that is clearly not a part of white culture. This has happened many times in the past with many different cultures. For example, when Zendaya Coleman (an African American actress) wore dreads to an event she was made fun of, but when Cara Delevingne (a Caucasian model) wore dreads it was considered a fashion statement. At music festivals people have worn feather headdresses and bindis as a part of their outfits, not realizing or caring that those things are ceremonial. Society degrades people of a culture for practicing their culture, and then when other people do the same things they are praised for it.
For all of the above reasons, I will not be supporting or purchasing anything from the MAC Vibe Tribe collection. The only way to fix issues like this is to let the company, brand, or person know that what they did is wrong and hope that they get the message for the future.
Thanks for reading this all the way through and I’m sorry for bringing this negativity onto my blog, I just have a lot of thoughts on this collection and I wanted to share them! Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion I’m really interested in hearing and discussing your thoughts about Vibe Tribe. If you do disagree, please explain why in a rational way because I’m always open to new opinions. However I don’t allow blatant hate on my page so keep that in mind as well!
I’ll be back to regular content with the next post!
Photo from Teenvogue.com