Deaf ownership of ASL usage and spotlighting in the realm of social media

Deaf ownership of ASL usage and spotlighting in the realm of social media

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Deaf Make Up Artists and Deaf Social Media Content Creators started this petition to Fenty Beauty and

Memo: The Cultural Appropriation of the Deaf Community in Advertisements and Marketing Campaigns, specifically regarding: @FentyBeauty Instagram Reel featuring @Zsignsbeauty.


To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you for the recent Instagram Reel posted with the goal of demonstrating inclusivity and communication with the Deaf Community. It’s a great step in the right direction for inclusivity and recognition of the Deaf Community. While we are sure your intentions were good, we’d like to call your attention to an issue that was overlooked. In the recent reel, The Deaf Community has been oppressed through lack of opportunity to meaningfully participate in the campaigns; instead the influencer in the reel is actually an outsider to the Deaf Community, a hearing person appropriating our language and our culture. We were not truly represented since the leading role in the campaign is a hearing person, using American Sign Language; a language not their own.

We see marketing ploys like these as Cultural Appropriation and deprivation of the opportunity for Deaf people to represent ourselves. We want to make change within the Beauty Industry and in advertising in general by providing education and a view point from within the Community.American Sign Language is a unique language and is a key feature of American Deaf Culture. Deaf people are the owners, keepers, and hosts of American Sign Language, and it is on loan it to hearing people through their work as interpreters. However, it’s not a language belonging to a hearing person. It’s a language belonging to US.

By featuring @zsignsbeauty on your brand’s page, the Deafmakeup artist community was ignored, overlooked, and deprived of the opportunity to benefit from such a well-received display of inclusivity. Through this memo we’d like to enact change. We’d like to be recognized, collaborate, and be offered a seat at the table in the beauty industry rather than have our language and culture be put on display by a non-member of our community.

The three key issues we take with the recent Instagram reelare:

1)     A hearing makeup artist was using American Sign Language, which is not their native language, nor a culture they are a member of. This display was sure to garner tangible benefits to the artist. Benefits that were due to a member of the Deaf community.

2)     Makeup artists and thereby Fenty are taking advantage of the novelty of ASL to sell products and benefit the influencer who was featured. That person probably received wages, promotional codes, and free product.

3)     By using a non-native user of ASL, there still exists a barrier to accessible marketing content

Given the number of Deaf makeup artists, it should be the case that they are recognized for their work and given the same opportunities that their hearing counterparts receive, such as promotional deals, collaborations, and features in ads.


Since there are thousands of Deaf customers that purchases makeup, beauty supplies, subscription boxes, it would be savvy to utilize Deaf professionals in your marketing space given the close knit nature of the community. When Deaf influencers are sharing products with their audience/fans, providing them value by teaching information on the products, promoting items they artists are not getting anything in return.


As a large corporation, you have access to us; we are Deafmakeup artists and content creators and we use ASL. Despite the challenges that deafness can bring to our lives, we have overcome as passionate professionals. Given the visual nature of our language and our way of life, Deaf beauty professionals benefit marketing and advertising efforts through their innate ability to connect through visual media.These skills developed through overcoming obstacles in a hearing-world make Deaf professionals the best options for your paid sponsorships.


By overlooking us, FentyBeauty and other competitor companies are not being authentically inclusive or diverse in their business, rather they are looking to seeminclusive and diverse at the expense of those who they seek to include.


Not only were the Deaf Community initially overlooked, but FentyBeauty seemingly ignored the Deaf Community’s displeasure at the choice of featuring this reel by failing to respond to any comments made on social media by the Deaf Community. The Deaf Community is unique to other cultures in that Deaf people are often the only members of their families belonging to it. Membership comes with the added obstacles of living in a hearing world in which you must overcome audism on a daily basis.

The Deaf Community would like to see FentyBeauty and it’scounterparts in the industry acknowledge the harm that featuring influencers who utilize cultural appropriation to signify inclusivity has done to the very people you are trying to reach. We would like you to provide opportunity to Deaf makeup artists to live out your brand of inclusivity.


In particular, we’d like acknowledgement of the mistake, and opportunities to work together in collaboration as true representatives of inclusivity and diversity.

Looking forward to your response,

The Deaf Community of Makeup Artists and Social Media Content Creators

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