The Swedish based company is back under fire again after an ad appeared online with a young Black girl’s natural hair looking unkempt.
The disheveled ad was blasted by celebrity hairstylist Vernon François, who shared the photo on Instagram and noted that he sees “situations like this happen time and time again. And it’s got to stop.”
“It’s essential that we have a conversation about this photograph from the @hm_kids campaign,” François wrote. ” Before I begin, I do not have the facts, nor have I seen any statement by #H&M or the team who worked on this. This post is just an assessment based on all my years of seeing situations like this happen time and time again. And its got to stop. This beautiful young girl’s #kinky hair appears to have had very little to no attention yet all of her counterparts have clearly sat in front of someone who was more than capable of styling other hair textures.
My heart breaks imagining yet another girl from my community”
Since the outrage, H&M has responded to the backlash but not in a way that you would expect. The discount retail giant revealed that all of the children were photographed the same way and that the idea was to capture them in their natural state after school, which left many to argue that it wasn’t H&M’s fault for the child’s appearance, but the parent’s.
“We are aware of the comments regarding one of our models for H&M Kids. We truly believe that all kids should be allowed to be kids. The school-aged kids who model for us come to the photo studio in the afternoon after school and we aim for a natural look which reflects that,” H&M said in a statement to Yahoo.
Although the family of the young girl in question has yet to respond, the fact remains that while all of the children in the subsequent ads look tousled, African-Americans have yet to accept and truly embrace 4b and 4c textured hair. Even when you look at our own ads for hair care and promoting the “natural” look, most women chosen have textures that are still very Eurocentric.
It’s no secret that women in the natural community have often voiced their disdain over not feeling adequate with their natural textures, due to 3b and 3c being the heavily promoted look-so the question isn’t who’s to blame, it’s are we really being honest about our own feelings regarding textures with tighter coils?
As Bustle points out, 4b and 4c hair have long been viewed as the “bad hair grade”, but many had hoped with the explosion of the natural hair movement in the early 2000s that we would rewrite the narrative, but as we can see by our own words during the controversy, we still have a long ways to go.
“There was a period in time that I hated my hair,” Charlene Akuamoah, a stylist said in her interview with the publication. “I thought it was so difficult to manage: It was rough, the curls were too tight, it didn’t look ‘presentable,’ it was always dry, and I felt like I looked better with straight hair. I [thought] that my hair had to be tamed.”
Sentiments echoed throughout the complaint of the child’s appearance in the ad. While H&M is undoubtedly tone-deaf regarding race in advertisements, this time the fingers we are pointing should be aimed at the real perpetrators-us.
Hopefully, the reality and exposure of the tainted way we still view our natural selves will help us change the narrative in our own community. Representation matters, especially when you see it loved among the very people you are representing to the world.