Brown Girl Hands calls out beauty industry’s lack of diversity in product photography

Hannah Harris is the 21-year-old founder of Brown Girl Hands, an online community devoted to diversifying beauty ads.

It may be obvious that there’s a lack of inclusion when you flip open a fashion magazine and see shoots with only white models. But product photography is another area where the beauty industry sorely lacks diversity.

When an ad features a beauty item, sometimes we only see the model’s hands — rarely are these hands of color. Harris’s Brown Girl Hands tackles the issue “by showcasing Black and Brown hands holding the industry’s most coveted products.”

Harris chats with In The Know about the birth of Brown Girl Hands and why the beauty industry needs to invest in new talent.

Her mission began after reading the 2020 article Where Are All the Brown Hands? by Jessica DeFino. DeFino studied nail polish brands’ social feeds, like O.P.I, Essie and ORLY, and discovered a questionable dearth of non-white hands.

“It was one of those things where you’re like, ‘What do you mean where are all the Brown hands?’ Like, I’m right here,” Harris says. “It was a really eye-opening article to read as a Black woman and think, ‘Well, I have Black hands. I could do this.'”

Harris had already been taking hand photos as a hobby for social media posts. But after reading the article, her hand photos took on an entirely new meaning.

“Oftentimes, I compare the absence of the diversity of hands to almost, in a sense, a microaggression,” Harris explains. “Because once you get down to fixing the microaggressions, then you’re really getting into the nitty-gritty. You’re not fixing the obvious signs of racism; you’re fixing the things that are really ingrained in a system.”

When brands include Black and Brown hands using their products, it can signal they imagine a world where Black and Brown people’s experiences are considered. However, Harris thinks the beauty industry should go deeper than more inclusive product photography. After all, if the people behind the camera don’t reflect those in front of it, then isn’t it all just for show anyway?

“I think showcasing a brand’s diversity and inclusion is definitely going to come from internal processes and who’s represented,” Harris says. “I think as the teams themselves diversify, then we’ll see that reflected in the content and in the campaigns and in the products that brands produce.”

The post Brown Girl Hands calls out beauty industry’s lack of diversity in product photography appeared first on In The Know.

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