Eli Levi, who goes by the username @elileviofficial on TikTok, called out the New York City Target’s security measures in a video uploaded to the platform last week, in which he urged Target to “explain”.
“Target, please explain to me why the lighter shades are perfectly out while the darker shades are packaged and security sealed. That is racism at its finest, in the beauty section at Target,” Levi said in the video as he filmed a shelf holding different shades of Versed Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops.
In the video, packages of the drops in the colour Sheer Golden are seen on the shelves without any security packaging, while drops in the darker shade Sheer Bronzed are seen in clear plastic boxes with a locked lid.
“Target please explain,” the 21 year old wrote in a text caption on the video, adding in the caption: “Not in NYC 2022.”
As of Wednesday, the video has been viewed more than 540,000 times, with many viewers criticising Target as a result of the clip.
“I’m not surprised honestly, the entire curly/coarse hair section is ALWAYS locked up,” one person commented.
Another said: “The way I GASPED. @Target you have some explaining to do,” while someone else claimed the store “didn’t even try to hide the racism”.
However, many of the comments came from users alleging that the security measures aren’t due to racism but theft prevention, as some claimed that Target is likely locking up the darker shades of the glow drops because they are the ones that are stolen more frequently.
“As someone who’s been the person locking these boxes, they lock up products that are stolen the most,” one person claimed, while another said: “Not racism, it’s loss prevention.”
Someone else added: “I’m not saying this isn’t racism but I’m pretty sure they only secure things that are most often stolen.”
Others pointed out that the product in question is not a foundation, but rather a bronze or golden highlighting serum that can be used on all skin tones. “It’s not a foundation guys, [it’s] literally bronze or golden highlight used for all skin tones. I have the darker bronze one, everyone is stealing the bronze,” one person wrote.
“They’re tanning drops, not foundation, and they lock up the products that get stolen most frequently – they go by the logs in their database,” someone else claimed.
The comments defending the store’s practises prompted a response from Levi, who wrote in a comment of his own: “Not y’all defending Target in the comments! This is just ONE of MANY examples of the racist protocols I chose to expose.”
This is not the first time that Target’s anti-theft practises have been called into question, as a woman also questioned the products the retailer chooses to lock in anti-theft devices in a post shared on Twitter in 2019.
“Hey, @Target any reason you only put these anti-theft devices on the darkest shades,” the customer at a store in Austin, Texas, tweeted, along with a photo of the cosmetics aisle in which just the darkest shade of foundation could be seen locked in the boxes, according to 7News.
The latest criticism directed at the store comes after Walmart, CVS and Walgreens all announced plans to stop locking up beauty and hair care products aimed at Black women and communities of colour in 2020 following backlash over what many claimed were discriminatory practises.
In a statement to NPR at the time, a spokesperson for CVS said its product protection measures “have never been based on the race or ethnicity of our customers,” but that the company would be “taking steps in our stores to ensure that no hair, beauty or personal care products for communities of colour are kept in locked displays or shelving units”.
The Independent has contacted Target for comment.