Kat Von D is the most well known tattoo artist in the media of all time. She has starred on two television shows, written three books, and inked countless numbers of celebrities and collectors with remarkable black and grey realism. One of her biggest adventures thus far, however, was launching her self-titled cosmetic line. For over seven years Von D has been the creative force driving her Sephora exclusive makeup line, a line that has become one of Sephora's top selling brands since its inception. As someone who has been using Von D's makeup line for the past five years, I can attest to the high quality and standards Von D puts into her cosmetics, constantly adding colors and revamping formulas to make the products the best they can be. Recently one of Von D's signature matte red lipsticks, "Underage Red" became the subject of a huge controversy throughout the Twittersphere and beyond. Many Twitter users found the title to be offensive and "wrong," while others lauded the tattooist for making a quality product with a name they felt many people were overreacting to. In response to the debate over whether or not this lipstick title, which has been selling on shelves for seven years, was inappropriate, Von D released the statement below through her Facebook page to address the issue.
Here's what Kat Von D had to say:
I have never expected everyone to understand or see things the way that I do.
With that being said, I can understand why some have found reason to be offended in regards to my choice in naming a lipstick "Underage Red" - but I feel the need to correct those of you who have clearly misinterpreted the name itself, and the inspiration behind it.
I should mention first, that I am the sole creative force behind my brand. I am the one responsible for naming every single shade, so I don't see why anyone should aim any backlash towards such a great company like Sephora, who ultimately has no creative input on such matters. Although I do sell exclusively through them, my brand is it's own independent entity.
Now, when naming a lipstick, my process may be different than other brand founders. For me, I can look at a shade and it usually evokes a feeling. Some names, of course, aren't as sentimental and are more literal, but i remember clearly the day i named "Underage Red."
"Underage Red" was one out of four lipstick shades that I released at the very start of the makeup line, seven years ago. It launched, alongside 3 other variation of red shades: "Hellbent," "Misfit," and "Lolita."
Out of those 4 shades, "Underage Red" was the matte, borderline-neon, fire-engine red.
I clearly remember wearing a variation of this shade when I was 16 years old. I also remember the feeling of wanting so badly to go see a specific concert at this age, and not being able to get in to the venue because I was underage. Back then, I was already deeply in love with punk rock music, and although in the eyes of many (including my parents), it may have been inappropriate for me to be wearing lipstick. But i did.
"Underage Red" is not a girly, pink shade. It is not a sophisticated, deep red either. It is an unapologetic, bold red. To me, "Underage Red" is feminine rebellion.
I am fully aware of my overly expressive, poetic, and sentimental tendencies at times - especially when it comes to naming shades and collections in my makeup line. But for that, I will never apologize. Most names, whether inspired by my favourite bands, lyrics, personal muses and memories, are very close and dear to my heart.
Since day one, my number one goal when creating any beauty product was (and always will be) to provide the creative tools for self-expression and to empower those who choose to wear it.
It has NEVER been a goal of mine to inspire sexualization of any sort, let alone promote a destructive lifestyle.
Anyone who knows or follows me, is very aware of my personal lifestyle choices which include celibacy, sobriety, conscious living and [above feminism], human rights. Although, i would never force my views and opinions onto others, i most definitely find it offensive being accused of the opposite.
These wild, and horrific accusations proclaiming that any aspect of my makeup line would ever promote the degradation of women, statutory rape, sexual behavior, human trafficking, underage drinking, or even idealization of fleeting youth, goes against everything I stand for. So, please excuse me if I find those articles and comments appalling and inaccurate.
If you read the word "underage" and you automatically jump to a disgusting conclusion, I ask you to perhaps question your own mind and thoughts. Consider the damage such negativity can actually cause, verses actually help.
So, NO. I refuse to sacrifice my integrity and creative freedom. NO. I will not be pulling "Underage Red" from my collection. And NO. This is not an apology.
Lastly, to my true fans and followers:
Thank you for your support, always. I ask that you don't engage in arguing with those who may not agree, or understand. The truth is, there ARE real existing problems in this world, and the last thing we need is to lose focus in pointless arguments.
I also ask that you please not worry! Yes, "Underage Red" is currently sold out (I believe due to all the long time fans of this shade assuming I might discontinue it.) But rest assured, it'll be back in stock as soon as possible for you.
Kat Von D"
To learn more about Kat Von D and updates on her cosmetics, check out KatVonDBeauty.com.
You can also see more of Kat Von D and her work with INKED right here.