I was recently asked if there are any other makeup brands I don’t work with, since I’m as unenthusiastic about MAC as I am. My answer? Only one.
I won’t use anything by Smashbox. I’ve heard their products are amazing, and I’d love to work with the photo finish product set, but I won’t do it.
Several years ago, I walked into Sephora. I had a date that night, a Very Important Date, and I’d scheduled a makeover. Someone screwed up their schedules, and the only person who could do the appointment was the visiting Smashbox artist.
I have rarely in my life been so insulted. He scanned me up and down, curled his lip, and told me he didn’t work with fat people. That Smashbox didn’t need my fat money. That he’d like to personally have me escorted from the store, because my fat body offended his sight.
I’ve worked in fashion as a model, fitting model, and design assistant for most of my life. My mom is a designer, and that’s where it all got started. Over time, I’ve been privileged to work with other designers over the years, and only one of them worked with fat people explicitly. Still, with all the horror stories of Karl Lagerfeld and other remarkably shitty pros in the field, I was never so slapped across the face as that day.
I marched, furious, humiliated, and on the edge of tears, straight back to my car, where I broke down before cancelling my date. It took me a couple of days to summon the courage, and then called Sephora to lodge a complaint. Sephora was amazing, and instantly won my loyalty. I won’t go into details, but they did their best to make things right, including putting me in touch with the regional vice president.
Smashbox did not do so well. The same day I dealt with Sephora, I called Smashbox. And they literally laughed at me over the phone. They told me that the artist was more important to them than a client was, and that they weren’t going to have anything more to do with it. And then they hung up.
They hung up on a legitimate, honest complaint from a client.
So, no. I don’t use Smashbox products. I’d love to see other people stop using them, even if they have gotten their act together—I have no evidence either way. To this day, walking into Sephora and seeing their displays makes me angry.
First, all of you (except for a few notable exceptions) have been tremendously supportive, and I appreciate it. While this was several years ago, it obviously stuck with me for a long time, and it’s also obvious it’s struck a chord with all of you. It was an intolerable situation, and it took a lot of courage for me to write it all out, and you guys being cool about it helped a lot. One of the things that stops us from speaking when we’re being harmed is the fear that no one will stand up with us. It hurts to stand alone against bullies, and it means a lot that you made sure that didn’t happen with this situation.
I had no idea this was going to be so big. I’m not a person who starts people talking in such a widespread way. Like I said, it’s obvious this resonated with you. Considering the intense criticism of women’s bodies by the media—and by each other—it’s not a terrible surprise. We rip each other apart, and we’re encouraged by the cosmetic and fashion industries.
This post eventually made its way to the ears of Smashbox. I’m okay with that. I want someone to fix this. I want a formal apology. I want them to take steps to stop. And I want to be able to add that all that happened here.
Alas, I can’t.
This happened over on their Facebook page:
Naomi Boyden, we’re so glad you reached out to us! We’ve been searching for your name/contact info, as we definitely want to try to get to the bottom of this for you. We think it’d be best to take this offline (we think you’d agree!), so if you could send an email to SmashboxOnlineTech@smashbox.com with your name, phone number and best time to reach you, we have our team standing by to chat with you. Please keep in mind that it might take a bit extra time for us to reach you due to the weekend, but we promise we’re committed to making this right. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
That was on September 14th. I saw that and later that evening, sent the email, as requested. I heard absolutely nothing. Because I do actually want to see changes made, I did it again. Still nada.
I am not convinced of their commitment to “making this right”. I am convinced that this is probably a bit of a PR issue, and they would like to nip it in the bud. I’m pretty sure they’d be happier if I’d delete this post, or attach their lovely apology to the bottom of it, so they could go about their lives. But I can’t. Because they dropped the ball.
Good job, Smashbox. This is not an improvement.