Bi-Weekly WTF :: Vol 4 – Racist Nail Polish Names

Racist Nail Polish Names - Wycon

You know, there’s a first time for everything. Even, apparently, slurs being used in racist nail polish names.

Pioneering Ignorance and Stupidity

Italian cosmetics company Wycon thought it would be smart to name some products based on songs. That would have been fine if just one person in their entire organization recognized that, “Thick as a Ni**a,” is not an appropriate or acceptable name for a nail polish color.

Or, you know, anything.

My reaction:

Just because someone said or named something that doesn’t mean you (an individual or a company, ffs) should do the same.

Enough is Enough

On January 22 they released a non-apology that included such gems as:

“We understand that people were offended about our unappropriate nail lacquer name choice and we feel deeply sorry…”

and, in talking about the action they’re going to take:

“…improve our brand communication in order not to offend and hurt your sensitivity in the future.”

You know, not because racist nail polish names or racist-anything names are wrong…but not to hurt your sensitivity. In one breath, Wycon talks about global responsibility and lacks a single staff member in touch with culture and, for that matter, English to make

  1. Good and acceptable judgment calls and
  2. A passable apology statement.

Furthermore, the apology referenced using the phrase from a song without context. It isn’t just about it being out of context. It is so much more than that.

The Bottom Line

I won’t link to them, their social media accounts, anything. They don’t need any more click-throughs, engagement, or ad-rev from this debacle. Though it is tragic, shitty coincidence, what is this link between the cosmetics industry, Italians, and inappropriate, racist nonsense? It is 2018. Holy shit, people, get it together.

Evidently there is first time for everything. Even though there shouldn’t be.

6 thoughts on “Bi-Weekly WTF :: Vol 4 – Racist Nail Polish Names”

  1. The nail polish name was horrible…but then, so was the freaking song it was named after! If you aren’t going to say a thing about the origins of this nail polish name, then seriously, don’t say anything. I’m blinded by the virtue signaling!

    • Katy, I believe I more than sufficiently addressed the song by saying, “Just because someone said or named something that doesn’t mean you (an individual or a company, ffs) should do the same.” But I’ll play ball.

      Clearly, the song isn’t in good taste. It is not a song I would listen to, suggest others listen to, or defend the content of other than that the writer and singer is entitled to behave in poor taste because the United States allows for free speech. That said, this blog does not offer commentary on creative choices by artists/musical acts that are influenced by cultural phenomena. I do not intend to instigate or indulge cultural debates here.

      This blog offers commentary on products, services, and goings-on of the beauty industry; this misstep of Wycon’s is topically relevant albeit unsavory. I’ll leave it at the fact that companies should not appropriate lines from songs with language that is known to be unacceptable if for nothing else than it is not terribly intelligent of them.

  2. Why is this reminiscent of my grandmother’s, ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’? I get exactly what you’re saying. I’m just noting that when you talk about the ‘artist’ with the n-word in his songs, your condemnation sounds utterly quaint. You unleash all hell, though, when going after the nail polish company (which, for the record, can also be construed as having an ‘artistic’ intent, just like the n-wording rapper.)

    My point is that BOTH are EQUALLY bad. My point is also a lot harder to take, because you’ll get criticized for attacking a presumably black ‘artist’, although there are a fair number of minority members who find any use of that word, including in songs, popular culture, and street jargon, to be highly offensive no matter what the skin color is of the person using it.

    They’re right. It’s an ugly, horrible word, and winking that there’s some kind of artistic license that enables the rapper to use it while bashing a nail polish company for doing the same thing, isn’t just hypocritical. It’s enabling. It’s a word that needs to die from disuse…from ANYONE.

    • I’m not saying I think the word should be used. I do find it repugnant.

      The point is that a *corporation* using it is unbelievably daft from, if nothing else, a business decision standpoint.

    • Mind is a little blown here. You do know that Italian is not a race, right? Just like German, British, or American are not races; they are nationalities. To be clear, in case you weren’t aware: Italy, like most countries, is host to many races, Italy is primarily Caucasian. Likewise, any Italian of any race could be responsible for this embarrassing incident on their part. Their poorly-executed communication has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with not being adequately prepared to address issues to their international consumer base.

      Currently, a significant amount of international business is conducted in English. Italian isn’t exactly a far-reaching language. So if you’re going to try to conduct business on a global stage it somewhat behooves you to be able to communicate effectively in a broadly-understood language to:

      * Prevent PR and business-decision-related disasters like this and
      * Craft statements and apologies with care and
      * Generally effectively provide support to a broad amount of international clientele.

      Let’s assume and explore a best case scenario in which Wycon did not intend to issue a non-apology. Perhaps they don’t have someone who is fluent in English on staff and just used a translator application or website to convert their message. Sometimes, things get lost in translation. This is a really bad scenario for something to get lost in translation, and it tells us a few things:

      * Lacking English comprehension, Wycon is just plucking random-ass song lyrics without understanding that they are being risky or offensive and
      * Wycon lacks an English-fluent employee to help prevent these situations or recover from them.

      Their business decisions ultiamtely caused more harm than help because it very much so reads as a non-apology even if it wasn’t intended as such. Best case scenario, they aren’t racist … but they are shitty business-people who have no idea what they are doing.

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