Ipsy, a Los Angeles-based beauty subscription service, is having a rocky start to pride month.
The brand is at the center of a social media scandal after publishing a video on June 1 to kick off Pride Month. The video, shared on Ipsy’s social media channels, features LGBTQ content creators speaking about pride and beauty, and what meaning the two have to them. But within hours, the video was getting heat on social media, with users labeling it transphobic.
The line in question that drew ire comes from Cassandra Bankson, a beauty YouTuber with over 800,000 subscribers. Bankson, who is a lesbian, says in the video: “I’m attracted to women. And there’s definitely a spectrum between trans women, between authentic cis-gendered women and everything in between. But at the same time I believe that love is beauty, and I can find that in many different places.”
Bankson’s labeling of cis-gender women—women for whom the sex they were assigned at birth matches their gender identity—as “authentic,” seemingly implies that trans women are not “authentic” women, had social media users calling out Ipsy on Twitter.
A few users also accused Ipsy of deleting comments from the video that addressed the transphobia claims. One screenshot shows Ipsy, through their customer service Twitter channel, Ipsy Care, responding to a Twitter user who was unhappy with the video: “We hear what you’re saying, but ask that you respect how our creators choose to identify themselves.”
The video has since been removed from all of Ipsy’s social media accounts, and the brand put out an apology statement on Sunday.
“This weekend, we shared a video with the hopes of kicking off Pride Month through heartfelt stories told by inspiring LGBTQ+ creators,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, we missed the mark in a big way. Our sincere apologies to anyone that we hurt with the thoughtless comments included in the video that seemed to imply trans women were not authentic women.”
“It was a big mistake and oversight to have included that line in what was meant to be a celebration of inclusivity,” the statement continued. “We realize we really messed up and that we still have a lot to learn.”
Bankson herself also apologized on her own, publishing a nearly 9-minute-long video to her Facebook page. “I do not understand these things as fully as I should,” she said in the video.
However, in a separate, written statement on her Facebook page, she came under fire for writing the words “biologically female.” She then clarified her words again, and wrote: “I want to make it as clear as I can that I do not believe that cis women are more authentic than trans women, or that trans women are in any way inferior.”
In a statement, Ipsy also said that it is “looking at ways we can reduce the damage caused by the post and aftermath,” and will make a follow-up announcement in the next two days.
As of publication time, the brand did not respond to Adweek’s request for comment.
Ipsy, a monthly service that sends subscribers five beauty samples a month for $10, was first launched by Michelle Phan, one of YouTube’s best-known beauty creators, in 2011. Though Phan herself left the company in September of last year, it has continued to grow, and now counts 2.5 million people among its subscription base.