This Diversity in Beauty Summit Is Shaking Up the Industry in a Major Way

For a long time, Tia Tappan struggled with accepting her skin tone. "I'm from the South, where colorism is very prevalent," says Tappan. "Growing up, as I began dating, I had boyfriends who would tell me I was cute for a dark-skinned girl and how they preferred girls with lighter complexions. I remember watching music videos and seeing women with lighter skin being the leading ladies. I always felt I was too dark and that my skin was not desirable." Many women of color share the same unsettling reality as Tappan. Living in a world that praises something you are not has a damaging effect on one's sense of self. The beauty industry's discriminatory past has been one of the major factors in this problem.

"Numerous times, I've gone to a retailer and seen only lighter shades of foundation—darker shades weren't even included. Or the slots for the darker shades were there, but they were never stocked. I've had to order foundation online numerous times because of this. All these experiences subconsciously told me that my skin tone wasn't acceptable. There was a time I actually hated my skin tone and wished to be lighter. I don't feel that way anymore—I absolutely love my brown complexion and wouldn't do anything to alter it—but society's and the beauty industry's attitudes toward those with darker skin definitely made me feel that way."

Inspired to bridge the gap, Tappan began working in professional diversity and inclusion roles and even founded her own beauty company, Batlash. After being abruptly fired from her previous job, she was inspired to go full throttle with her passion for inclusiveness and create the Diversity in Beauty Summit, a conference dedicated to pushing representation forward—the first of its kind. [Ed. note: This year's conference is May 20 in Los Angeles.]

The term "diversity" is used loosely more so now than ever before. In 2018, major companies are taking advantage of the term for monetary purposes to drive sales and attention to their brands. If we're talking about diversity, we have to talk about important matters like tokenism and shade inclusivity in the beauty industry. Tappan shares her honest thoughts about the state of the beauty industry and why her passion project is so incredibly important below.