Nappily Ever After: H&M Issues Statement About Black Girl’s ‘Natural’ Hair, No Apologies This Time

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty

So...

H&M has found itself the subject of another b(l)acklash.

The fast-fashion retailer got called out again for their questionable choices in reflecting black kid magic.

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But this time they are not folding up like the cheap suits they shill out.

On Friday, the Stockholm-based clothing company issued a statement on the firestorm that ignited on social media over a recent campaign featuring a young black girl with her natural hair pulled into a ponytail that had not been brushed and gelled down, which a lot of black folks consider proper grooming.

U.K.-based textured hair specialist Vernon Francois posted the photo on Instagram, saying he wanted to have “a conversation” about it. He admitted to not having all of the facts but maintained he was frustrated after years of “seeing situations like this happen time and time again.”

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“This has to stop,” the lengthy post continued, noting that young model’s kinky hair “appears to had very little attention” and how he imagined “yet another black girl from my community being ignored by the team around her.”

His post generated over 1,500 comments and over 21,000 likes since Thursday.

Folks on social media platforms went apeshit (pun intended, please read on) and cried foul over seeing what seemed to be a brown-skinned girl with unkempt hair advertising a floral hoodie. Unfortunately, the fashion wasn’t the main attraction.

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On Friday, Nylon reported H&M’s statement about the controversy—or nontroversy (depending on who you talk to, and on which day):

“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.”

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Bloop.

This new stance contrasts the position the publicly-traded global brand, with over 4,5000 stores in 63 countries, had on another campaign involving the image of a black kid used in controversial advertisement just over a year ago.

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In January 2018, H&M was publicly shamed for using a little black boy in a sweatshirt that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”

After the uproar, the second-largest international clothing retailer removed the image from all their channels, discontinued the sale of the shirt, and issued an apology saying that they would thoroughly investigate to prevent it from happening again.

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According to reports, H&M has since hired Ezinne Kwubiri as its head of inclusion & diversity, “a seasoned international expert who previously served at a major Fortune 500 company for 11 years in the fields of diversity, inclusion, and change management,” according to a February 2018 Forbes profile.

Oh hell, I’ll ask: Is it working?

 

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!