Coty CEO accuses dictionary publishers of ‘sexism,’ ‘ageism’ in definitions of ‘beauty’
The chief executive of Coty — the company that owns Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics as well as a 20% stake in her big sister Kim Kardashian’s KKW brand — blasted dictionary publishers for describing the word ‘beauty’ in ageist and sexist terms.
“She was a great beauty in her youth” is a phrase often used in dictionaries to illustrate the word, while “I was struck by her beauty” is another, CEO Sue Nabi griped in a Monday letter to publishers.
“Seen through the lens of today’s society and values, the definition of beauty hasn’t aged well. The implicit ageism and sexism in the examples were born in a different time,” according to the letter.
The letter is addressed to “major English dictionary houses” but doesn’t name any specific publishers. The letter also doesn’t propose any specific alternative definitions for beauty, instead asking for a “review” and “update” of the definition “to be more modern and inclusive, reflecting today’s society and values.”
Coty, an $8.3 billion French-American company that also owns CoverGirl and Clairol, also launched a Change.org petition on Monday, calling for a makeover to the publishers’ definitions. As of early Monday, it had logged 239 signatures.
“Of course, not all people are impacted by, or feel excluded by these definitions,” the letter adds. “But if, by changing the definition, more people feel included — feel beautiful — there’s a ripple effect that touches us all.”
The letter is part of a broader marketing campaign – #UndefineBeauty — recently launched by Coty. Nabi’s letter is co-signed by the company’s board and senior management, calling on the publishers to review “the outdated nature of their definitions.”