‘An employee pulled up my wig at work’: Why I quit my job at Fenty Beauty

A Bristol University student speaks out


I used to work at Fenty Beauty in Harvey Nichols. I was the only black female employed by the brand in Bristol. A few other black girls from beauty agencies come in to work with us every now and then.

I’m used to being the only black person in a lot of environments. Even in my current degree I have been the only black person in my cohort since I started in 2015, so I’ve learnt to be comfortable in such situations and focus on the task at hand.

But one day, a fellow employee pulled up my wig at work, claiming that she wanted to see the cornrows underneath my wig. She told me to my face twice that my country Nigeria is the poorest nation in Africa and she also said to another colleague that I stink.

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Adey Akitoye is a third year Mathematics and Computer Studies student

Luckily, the whole situation has been resolved and the people involved no longer represent the brand. However, I do find it saddening to think I had to escalate the issue by taking it to social media, in order for what should have been done in the first place, to finally take place.

The event took place on Friday and I spent Friday night and the following
weekend feeling depressed and alone. I lost an average of 6Ibs during the entire duration of the incident. I’ve never lost that much weight in such a short time. I couldn’t sleep for more than a three hour stretch and I had maybe one meal each day.

I got a lot of support from my community of friends and even strangers all over the world. But the feeling of wanting to run away from your own skin because someone has made you uncomfortable about it, was one I could not shake. I even received hurtful messages from a lot of hateful strangers which only made me feel worse.

In 2017 three UoB students spoke out against social media racist bullying

I sought help from student counselling because I believe it is important to talk about your mental health with professionals who could guide you on the right path towards moving forward.

For anyone dealing with situations that cause discomfort and depression, look within yourself and let your voice be heard. Don’t be afraid of those that try to convince you that you are irrelevant – they can only go so far in life if they don’t change their attitude. There’s no shame in admitting that you are not okay when seeking help.

No matter what, please don’t take your own life, you are worth more than a billion diamonds, your life is a gift and the best part about hitting rock bottom is that it only goes up from there. Do your best to think positive thoughts and remember to always stand up for what you believe in.

People should always try to find the courage to walk away from any situation that is toxic and doesn’t encourage your personal growth. You will find that it is one of the best decisions you could ever make for yourself – it was for me.

Thank you to my community for joining me to stand up for what is right and preventing anyone else from having to deal with what I went through in future. It feels good to know that there are amazing people living in our world and hopefully, our children would not have to deal with a lot of the issues we are currently facing.

There are no bad races, there’s just good people and bad people.

In response to the original Bristol Post article, Harvey Nichols refused to make a statement at the time but said all make-up assistants at Fenty are hired by the brand. Fenty by Rihanna apologised to Adey on Twitter and said an investigation was ongoing.