On Thursday, MAC debuted its second collaboration with Caitlyn Jenner – a collection of lipsticks, lip glosses, lip pencils, eyeshadows, eye kohl, powder blush and lashes, all emblazoned with "CAITLYN JENNER" on the luxurious black and gold packaging.
Marketed as a beauty line “championing all ages, all races and all sexes,” using “elegant, classic shades for lips, eyes and cheeks [which] are beautifully suited for those who embrace life, in whatever form they choose,” Jenner's second MAC collaboration indeed has a positive message.
Racial, gender and age diversity are still much needed in most aspects of our culture, and if Jenner can promote that via $21 lipgloss baring her name, fantastic!
There is, however, one glaring issue with the shiny new collection: None of the profits will be donated.
Unlike Jenner's first collaboration with MAC, Finally Free lipstick, which retails for $17 and donates 100% of the selling price to the MAC AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative, none of the proceeds from Jenner's new line will be dedicated to the fund, or any other charitable causes, which is striking, considering the precedent she set up with MAC for her first collaboration with the brand.
Nineteen-year-old Charlotte resident Fawcett Propst, who identifies as non-binary, was critical of the new collaboration, saying,
I know that in the past, MAC has made several charitable donations to fight AIDS. It bothers me that someone who is seen as a trans icon wouldn't want to do the same. I don't think Jenner deserves the role of an icon that she has. I appreciate everything she has done for trans visibility, however, she still vehemently disagrees with gay marriage and other basic human rights. Her position on those topics is why I just can't support her.
A spokesperson for MAC did not comment on how involved celebrities are in choosing where their proceeds go (as if Jenner doesn't have a strong say in everything she does), but noted that the MAC AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative has raised more than $1.3 million to date. Currently, MAC is selling Ariana Grande's VIVA GLAM lipsticks and lipglass, proceeds of which go to the MAC Aids Fund.
While there's nothing wrong in making a profit – Jenner's daughter Kylie knows a thing or two about slinging lip kits for cash – Jenner has named herself a potential presidential trans ambassador and is an icon for the trans community.
Jenner's nearly unlimited earning potential could also be seen as unlimited fundraising potential to help a community with a staggeringly high rate of homelessness, risk of suicide and horrific history of being targeted by violence and hate crimes.
As Jenner told Vanity Fair in June 2015,
I'm not doing it for money. I'm doing it to help my soul and help other people. If I can make a dollar, I certainly am not stupid. [I have] house payments and all that kind of stuff. I will never make an excuse for something like that. Yeah, this is a business. You don't go out and change your gender for a television show. OK, it ain't happening. I don't care who you are.
Jenner certainly didn't transition for the money, but her transition has been lucrative – she allegedly earns $100,000 per speaking gig and has enormous potential for earning via sponsored tweets and brand endorsements. And again, good for her! More visibility for trans folks in mainstream media and everyday life is a positive shift.
Where Jenner would have once been considered an outcast, the beauty industry, she is now an icon, and starting the MAC AIDS Fund's Transgender Initiative is a great step in helping the larger community outside the Jenner-Kardashian empire, but it is hardly enough.
Dee Culp, a 37-year-old trans woman living in Wilkes-Barre, PA is bothered “a little” by the lack of donations from Jenner's second MAC collection. She said,
If they want to target this line on the trans community and ask us to spend our money, she should definitely split the [profits for] donations. But maybe MAC just sees a celebrity and wants her endorsement? In that case, I suppose the onus is slightly less. But it would be nice!
Jenner's responsibility to help the community is also up for debate. Culp said,
I honestly don't really know how much I feel she owes the community; I'd say about as much as any of us do, really. I attend support groups, go to political events and do a lot of different things to increase visibility, but that's just what I like to do, I don't do it out of a sense of obligation.
The Jenner-Kardashian family, is, however, not like everybody else, thanks to their wealth and influence and the nearly-blind worship of millions of people internationally who subscribe to the Jenner family's paid apps, buy their merchandise and try to emulate their extravagant lifestyles.
Not all, however, believe Jenner has any special responsibility to dedicate her proceeds back to the community she's representing.
Dominick Evans, a 36-year-old trans man said,
I don't really care what celebrities do with their money. We do not expect others to donate money from their cosmetic lines, so why be any different to Caitlyn? Is Caitlyn Jenner a trans icon or is she someone famous who just happens to be trans? Ultimately, each person in this world has to be the one to determine what they choose to give back to this world. Caitlyn should be treated with the same basic human respect and dignity every person should, but expecting anyone to devote their time or money to any cause is hugely problematic.
Evans isn't a Kardashian-Jenner fan and also doesn't endorse Jenner as a tans role model simply because she is trans.
We do not have enough trans people visible in the world so this role of trans icon is thrust on any trans person with a following. That is the real problem. Caitlyn can choose to advocate or not, but lets focus on real trans activists instead...people like Sarah McBride and Kylar Broadus. They are my trans icons.