New Initiative Aims to Change the Lack of Diversity in Skincare Imagery
A recent campaign partnership between Vaseline and VisualDx aims to set a new standard for diversity in skincare.
Cameras are and have been one of the easiest ways to capture memories and reminisce on moments. While darker skin tones have long been ignored by certain standards in the photo industry, an issue that continues today, it’s not the only problem that involves darker skin and photography.
Another major issue that to this point has been largely overlooked involves healthcare and how hard it is for people of color to accurately search for skin condition issues. When people with melanin-rich skin search for skincare advice online, they’re often met with photo results that don’t accurately reflect them and are, as a result, unhelpful.
SeeMySkin is a new website and database that is designed to address the lack of diversity and representation of darker skin tones through capable analysis that aids in the diagnosis of the skincare problems many people of color face. Ailments like eczema, alopecia, and chronic dry skin all are used as examples of what could be detected if the database is used properly.
“When it comes to skin conditions imagers, only six percent reflect Black/Brown skin,” SeeMySkin says.
“This lack of diversity in skin color images can be problematic. When people with melanin-rich skin search for skincare advice online, they’re often met with results that don’t accurately reflect them. Even an analysis of research done during the pandemic showed an absence of darker skin colors in publications relating to COVID-19 skin conditions.”
This database was created through a partnership between Vaseline, a Unilever brand, and VisualDx, a software that was first introduced and developed in 2001 to aid medical practitioners in diagnosing certain skin conditions. VisualDx is also commonly used as a teaching aid, so the SeeMySkin initiative could play a role in teaching a new generation of healthcare professionals about the ailments that plague people of color that have previously gone overlooked.
Systemic racism and healthcare inequities negatively impact people of color, leading to worse outcomes including misdiagnoses, untreated conditions, and increased mortality rates for skin cancer.
“People of color are negatively impacted by healthcare inequalities that can lead to worse health outcomes, including caring for their skin. Whether it’s looking for answers in search, on social media, or even in textbooks-the results that resemble their skin are scarce, which can leave us feeling unseen and underrepresented,” Vaseline says.
A quick search of the database demonstrates great promise given its accessibility and forward-thinking when it comes to healthcare.
However, these issues that remain prevalent in film and photography can’t all be changed by a 47-second ad campaign. The subjects in the video lament the important fact that it is hard to seek proper care for their skin when there is no frame of reference given for darker skin tones. It’s an important issue and one that should have been addressed some time ago.
While true that it is a skincare company responsible for the action here and as such the motives can be quested as a marketing ploy, it is also important to give credit where it is due: SeeMySkin is the only database designed to search for conditions on skin of color and connect patients with physicians who understand their skincare needs.
The intention behind what boils down to an ad is good-natured and calls attention to the fact that modern society simply has not done enough to rectify this issue that’s plagued people of color for decades.