Ulta courts customers and controversy with its ‘The Beauty Of…’ podcast
Ulta Beauty faced boycott threats last week after featuring a star trans influencer in a video.
An episode of “The Beauty Of…” podcast featured Dylan Mulvaney, a TikTok star with over 15 million followers, being interviewed by David Lopez, a gender-fluid hairdresser, about “the good, the bad and the silly moments that come with finding girlhood.”
Some listeners found the conversation “misogynistic” and charged Ms. Mulvaney was “appropriating” womanhood, joking about buying tampons, calling female genitals a “Barbie pouch,” and voicing motherhood dreams. #BoycottUlta trended on Twitter.
In response, Ulta wrote on social media, “We believe beauty is for everyone. And while we recognize some conversations we host will challenge perspectives and opinions, we believe constructive dialogue is one important way to move beauty forward.”
Ulta also directly responded to criticism on social media while turning off comments on the YouTube video of the podcast. Many viewers had supported the influencer and Ulta.
Transgender individuals have appeared on fashion runways and in campaigns in recent years with generally little fanfare, but some have ignited major backlashes, including a Calvin Klein ad that ran this past Mother’s Day featuring a pregnant transgender man. An Adidas campaign featuring a star trans volleyball player caused an uproar as some believe trans women have an unfair advantage in athletics against non-transgender women.
Writing for Advertising Age, Jack Neff said Ulta’s outreach taps the Gen-Z generation that is leading the charge for both inclusivity and gender identity while also helping Ulta reach transitioning women. He writes, “There’s a social justice component, but such moves also allow Ulta to tap into a wider customer base.”
Sephora has also featured trans women in campaigns and hosts beauty classes for trans people.
Trans-rights have become a polarizing political issue in recent years. A recent Pew Center survey finds 64 percent of Americans back laws or policies that protect transgender people from discrimination, but 60 percent say a person’s gender is determined by sex assigned at birth, up from 56 percent in 2021. Of the respondents, 38 percent say society has gone too far in accepting transgender individuals and 36 percent, not far enough.
- Ulta Beauty is defending transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney after critics said they’d boycott the retailer for featuring her on a podcast – Business Insider
- Ulta faces boycott threats after hosting transgender influencer on podcast – Cosmetics Business
- Perspective: Did social conservatives get played by the Ulta controversy? – Deseret News
- Ulta Beauty Turns Off Comments, Stands By Offensive Transgender Video That Triggered Boycott Calls – DailyWire
- Ulta Facing Boycott Threats After Trans Tiktok Star’s Podcast Appearance – Advertising Age
- How Ulta Beauty responded to transphobic comments about podcast guest – PRWeek
- Ulta Beauty Trans ‘Girlhood’ Clip Goes Viral … Sparks Calls for Boycott – TMZ
- Americans’ Complex Views on Gender Identity and Transgender Issues – Pew Research
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How will Ulta’s and Sephora’s support of the trans community affect their businesses? How do you think cosmetics brands should navigate the opportunity to market to transgender people?