Men wrongly barred from Sephora’s start-up program

By: Leah Devorak | Layout Editor 

Sephora’s Accelerate program helps to support female start-up companies in the beauty industry. However, the program prohibits men from participating.

Sephora’s Accelerate program helps to support female start-up companies in the beauty industry. However, the program prohibits men from participating.

Another opportunity for female equality is here thanks to Sephora’s new Accelerate program, a four-month boot camp to help start-up beauty companies break into the incredibly tough makeup and skincare world.

Being the first of its kind among beauty companies, Accelerate could have the potential to bring significant societal meaning to an industry that’s very commonly seen as only ego-boosting and objectifying. Its restrictions against male participants, however, tarnish that, making the program instead add to the gender discrimination it is trying to stop.

Men always have and always will play a significant role in the thriving and development of the beauty industry. They actively consume skincare and makeup products, especially in other countries. That explains why men have gone on to create some of the most loved brands out there, like Nars, Korres and Too Faced.

This constant consumption leads men to have their own personal care product ideas, too, some of which they actually want to pursue as a career. But it’s hard for them to do that, mostly because cosmetics are seen as “unmanly” and thus not an appropriate career path.

This societal viewpoint leaves many male beauty entrepreneurs struggling to get off the ground, unable to make a living off their true passion. With just a little help, though, this problem could be solved, and men could have the same exact opportunity as women to pursue their personal care passions.

If Accelerate allowed men to compete, too, then it would be the perfect way for the beauty industry to start providing this much-needed help. It would break down the stigma against metrosexuality that keeps men out of the industry and thus allow new male innovators to step in and potentially cause a developmental boom. Without the program accepting men, though, this can never happen.

The decision to keep men out of things would be much different if male founders in the industry were the typical white, middle-aged, misogynistic businessmen America has come to know so well. In that case, leaving them out would serve to make the world a little more equal by creating a way for women to bypass the only obstacle in the way of their success.

The men of the beauty industry are not like that. Instead, they are artists, minorities, homosexuals — all people whose goal isn’t the ultimate oppression of another gender because they’re already fairly oppressed themselves.

It would also be different if Sephora’s claim of female industry founders being underrepresented was true. While it is accurate to say that many men both started and now lead lots of successful makeup companies, females are almost ridiculously present.

To name just a few of the big brands currently under the influence of female leadership: Bobbi Brown, Makeup Forever, Wei, Kat Von D, Laura Mercier, Bite Beauty, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Elizabeth and James, Hourglass Cosmetics, Philosophy, Tarte, Yves Saint Laurent. The list could go on and on.

So the need to boost women up in this industry is minuscule, if even existent.

If the beauty industry really wants to start making social change, then it should open its program to the other half of the population it’s currently excluding. Removing the current restrictions would make the program a lot more meaningful to the industry by allotting help to any of the struggling business people it finds, not just the female ones.

If the industry really wants to focus on improving women’s rights, then it should think about initiating the program in a different part of the world, one where all women actively struggle in all aspects of life.

Such a venture would have the impact the industry has in mind, but keeping the effort within first-world borders simply wastes development potential on people who already are perfectly fine without the extra help.

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