This post originally appeared on Kassy Cho’s blog.
A Vietnamese cosmetic brand has gone viral for its decision to feature models of different skin tones in its promotional images, challenging beauty standards in Asia, where white and pale skin are considered the ideal and preferred over darker skin tones.
OFÉLIA Cosmetics was founded in Los Angeles in 2016 by Annie Le and Tracy Ngo, two Vietnamese women.
“Growing up as a Vietnamese [woman], there were certain beauty standards that we observed and also fell into,” Ngo said. “I was trying to make my skin paler as I constantly heard from elders that white and pale skin is better-looking.”
That mindset sabotaged her self-esteem for years, she said.
Ngo, who has a beauty YouTube channel @changmakeup with more than 1.2 million followers, said that it was only as her work reached more people that she realized that she wasn’t the only one with those insecurities.
She started noticing that whenever she made lip swatch videos, many of her Vietnamese followers would ask her which lipstick would fit their darker skin tones compared to her natural beige skin.
“I thought it would be a great idea if I can demonstrate the lipstick color on different skin tones in my own cosmetics brand,” she said.
Since then, Ngo said she tries to addressed her audience’s feedback and concerns when creating OFÉLIA products.
Ngo said she wanted to create products that fit different Asian skin tones to help people feel less alone and “to let all the women and men know they are beautiful in their own skin.”
Ngo said she was happy to discover that the images had gone viral after screenshots of a tweet about the photos were shared on an Asian activist Instagram account.
“It’s 2020. We believe that there’s no such thing as ‘a beauty standard’ that applies to everyone,” she said. “We hope our photos and products inspire people to embrace their own beauty, to be confident and happy with who they are, and to express their uniqueness in their own way.”
Ngo added that thanks to the positive feedback, OFÉLIA will “try our best to do an even better job at highlighting women and men’s different skin undertones and keep challenging the outdated social conceptions of beauty.”