Black History Month is officially in full swing folks! This monumental month is all about celebrating African American culture and the achievements Black people have made throughout U.S. history. Many brands and companies make it a point to acknowledge Black History Month, but sometimes their efforts fall short or even worse, offend the masses. Unfortunately, retail giant Bath & Body Works is currently feeling the heat.
It appears that Bath & Body Works had good intentions to celebrate and acknowledge Black History Month. However, their new collection that honors the celebration has not been received well by those on social media. Here’s everything that we know.
Social media users have slammed Bath & Body Works for using traditional African cloth art designs in their packaging.
Hell hath no fury like the Black community scorned! The new Bath & Body Works limited edition Black History Month collection features a mix of candles, lotions, and fragrance mists. And while the lineup is pretty on-brand for the retail giant, the problem comes with their packaging.
The packaging for the products is designed with the art of traditional African mud cloth. And naturally, the brand is very proud of its creations to honor the month.
“To me, it beautifully bridges our rich history with a bright future through vibrant colors and inspirational messages,” said William Bernard, vice president of design at Bath & Body Works per Stylecaster. “I also think it’s meaningful that a group of Black associates, leaders, and partners from Bath & Body Works were a part of the creation, allowing our collective expression to come to life.”
Bath & Body Works intends to donate $500,000 to the National Urban League and the Columbus Urban League. Plus, there are also plans in motion to host events that promote Black health and wellness.
“These funds will support underserved communities with workforce development and economic empowerment programs throughout America,” Ronak Fields, AVP of community relations and philanthropy said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work at Bath & Body Works and side-by-side with passionate associates who are committed to uplifting our neighbors.”
However, social media users are not pleased with the collection. In fact, many people feel disrespected by the brand because it used African art in its designs. Many claim that the brand is guilty of capitalistic exploitation. Making matters worse, social media users have pointed out problematic products in the collection; there's a watermelon-scented candle that has many people see as having racist undertones.
Bath & Body Works has yet to respond to the social media backlash.
As the harsh criticisms of the Bath & Body Works limited-edition Black History Month collection continue to build momentum online, the brand has been silent so far.
Over the years, we’ve seen many brands be able to bounce back from their missteps. So Bath & Body Works may possibly be able to learn from this ordeal and make better decisions in the future.
The moral of the story is that brands and corporations need to stop attempting to capitalize off of Blackness. Their efforts will be much more appreciated and respected by working in tandem with Black brands to pay homage to Black culture.