#AaliyahforMac: Should Deceased Celebrities Be Used to Sell Makeup?

Marilyn. Selena. And now, Aaliyah. Is it right? 

Aaliyah is one of the most beautiful singers of all time. Every girl wanted to be her, every guy wanted to date her. 14 years after the singer’s tragic death, you may be able to get Babygirl’s effortless look yourself. Now, fans are rallying M.A.C. cosmetics to create an Aaliyah-inspired line.


There’s no doubt that Aaliyah deserves her own cosmetics line. Aaliyah was a true beauty. Insanely gorgeous with an undeniable girl-next-door charm, she embodied natural style. Every girl I knew wanted to look like her, move like her and yes, even wear their hair in a Veronica Lake-esque swoop because of her. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t cover one eye with my bangs for most of middle school because of Aaliyah. What makes Aaliyah most special is the personal connection she gave her fans. I never met her. I never saw her in concert and yet, I felt like I knew her. Fourteen years after her death, that bond remains. Jay Z wrote songs for her, Drake (who never met Aaliyah) has a huge tattoo of her face emblazoned on his back.


The biggest question involving a posthumous Aaliyah makeup line—or anything involving a late celebrity—is ethical: Is it right to use a dead celebrity to promote stuff or should we let them rest in peace? M.A.C. recently-announced a 2016 collection inspired by late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla. Over 50 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe was announced as the “global brand ambassador” of Max Factor (and played by impersonator Candice Swanepoel) while Dior resurrected Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich for a 2011 perfume ad. Marilyn has also “worked” in the afterlife for Chanel and Dior.

Posthumous advertising—creepily called “necroadvertising”—needs to first and foremost be organic. If the celebrity were still alive, would she endorse this product, and make the company millions? Max Factor claims that Marilyn’s trademark blonde locks were the work of Max Factor himself in the 1940s. According to the #AaliyahforMAC petition, her beloved brother Rashad (fans remember that he was her date at the 2000 MTV VMAs) says Aaliyah was a huge M.A.C. fan. Supposedly, her favorite MAC products were: Chelsea Lipstick, Cherish Lipstick, Chestnut Lipliner, espresso eyeshadow, and biscuit eyeshadow. This seems feasible given her personal style and taste.


Approval from close relatives and friends that knew the celebrity is also important. Aaliyah’s family was very instrumental in her career and in fact, her uncle was her manager. They have been extremely protective of licensing her name, likeness and music (which is why that Drake and Aaliyah album never happened), so Rashad’s support is a good sign for M.A.C. If the Aaliyah for M.A.C. line does eventually happen, we as fans ask that it be done respectfully. Please no Photoshop or airbrushing images. Don’t use holograms or impersonators for commercials or concoct voiceovers by piecing together old audio. We love Aaliyah and we want to her legacy to live on…but as she would have wanted it.


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