Culture versus capitalism. It’s an age long conflict that has steadily ramped up it’s fight in recent years as mainstream retailers attempt to sacrifice the former in order to cultivate the latter. Today, consumers and audiences are fed gimmicks and images that exaggerate and, often in some cases, humiliate highly treasured religions, traditions, and styles of other cultures all in the name of dominating cultural spheres like sports, fashion, beauty, and wellness.
Now, in the latest upset for a minority culture, big box store Sephora is packaging your bruja culture into a can and selling it to consumers who want to “do it for the ‘gram.”
The French beauty store recently announced plans to sell a “Starter Witch Kit” in stores and online this October.
View this post on Instagram
This is almost as offensive as a “black people starter kit.” It’s weird … in a store ? It’s fashionable to be witchy now ? Oh really ? And about this small bundle of sage…… lol open up a wrong portal and a spirit will knock the sage bundle out your hand. Don’t be tricked. Smh. #sephoratriedit #blackpeoplestarterkithasedgecontrolinitcauseyallstaysnatchingmyedges #sephora #witchkit #ELOHEL #itscoolbeingawitch #butitwasntcooljustayearago #ithoughturbanoutfitterwouldhavetriedthis
“Just in time for Halloween,” the nine-piece starter kit will be sold for $42 and cater to “mysticism” lovers. The kit, which is being launched in collaboration by the perfume brand Pinrose, will carry fragrances, a rose quartz crystal, and a tarot card deck. Oh, and if you didn’t think the joke could get any better, the kit will also include a white sage smudge stick. That’s right. Ya heard. A white sage smudge stick. The one which is notoriously known for it’s significance to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas who have long used the plant for medicinal purposes and cleansing ceremonies.
Many who identify as witches expressed their frustration over the beauty chain’s latest ploy.
Okay @Sephora. Listen. This is crazy offensive, first of all, not to mention dangerous and stupid. These are sacred tools, used for sacred practices. Not your fun Halloween entertainment. Cultural appropriation isn't cute or trendy. #sephorawitchkit pic.twitter.com/WQxquNciX2
— Cat irl (@catoryan) September 6, 2018
Which prompted Indigenous Twitter users to school “white witches” on the fact that many of the items in these kits were part of their religious practices and culture first.
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BUY THESE. Not only does @Sephora literally not need the money, but white sage is an ENDANGERED plant and smudging is an exclusively Native practice!!!!!! #sephorawitchkit https://t.co/6p3jZfnyj7 via @qz
— Almsy (@greenalms) September 4, 2018
While, white sage is actually not an endangered herb as some users online have implied, buying it from mainstream stores, however, is harmful to small market of white sage vendors. Additionally, with so many big brands harnessing the spiritual practices of minority groups, female businesses owners color are being severely affected.
There’s no doubt that the promotion of inner and outer beauty awareness has prompted big box fashion and beauty stores to seize the opportunity to profit. Yep. The same big name brands who have for decades used airbrushing and photoshop to not only sell you unobtainable beauty ideals but have also generated millions of cases of body dysmorphia, are now promoting your wellness, health, self-love and appreciation. Is it shocking that a business that’s in the business of capitalizing on the cultures of other minorities is turning a profit on brujeria and the like? Not really.