Questions Arise Over Sephora’s Handling of Girls in Blackface

Sephora made headlines this week after a video went viral showing three girls wearing apparent blackface at one of the chain’s Boston locations. The company said in a statement to the news media that it had asked the shoppers to “leave the premises,” adding, “Under no circumstance is this type of behavior tolerated at Sephora.” But two witnesses have a different account of what took place.

The 24-second video, which was posted on TikTok, was taken Feb. 8 at the Sephora store at the Prudential Center in Boston. It shows a blond woman confronting a second woman, who appears to be the girls’ chaperone. Standing near the two adults is a girl whose face is painted in a circle of dark brown foundation makeup.

The blond woman calls the behavior “incredibly offensive.” The chaperone walks away, shaking her head. The person filming the incident says, “This is so shameful.” Then the video cuts to a shot that shows two other girls in dark makeup.

After the video set off news coverage nationwide, Sephora, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, said in its statement that its “top priority is to create a welcoming and inclusive shopping experience for all.”

Kiara Janae Kudlo, the blond woman in the video, said in an interview with The New York Times that the company’s statement did not reflect what happened in the store that day. Instead, she said, members of the group were allowed to make purchases in the checkout area before leaving. In Ms. Kudlo’s view, that did not align with Sephora’s zero-tolerance statement.

Ms. Kudlo, 24, is not a Sephora employee but a market specialist for a beauty brand carried by the chain. As part of her job, she travels to Sephora locations to check on the stock and tidy up displays. (She declined to name the brand, but The Times verified her employment.)

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