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Another day – another scandal. We’ve made it through fashion week with only a few hiccups, but now H&M is once again under fire. The brand was in the news in 2018 for having a little Black boy wear a shirt that said, “The coolest monkey in the jungle.” Now they are facing scrutiny for how a young Black woman’s hair was featured on their site. It was celebrity hairstylist, Vernon Francois, who shamed the brand via Instagram.

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It’s essential that we have a conversation about this photograph from the @hm_kids campaign.  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 then capable of styling other hair textures. My heart breaks imagining yet another girl from my community sitting in front of a mirror being ignored by the team around her, left to her own devices because someone didn’t know how to handle her texture. As if that’s not bad enough…. Prior to this campaign appearing this photograph will have been seen and APPROVED by countless ‘professionals'. Lets say conservatively 50 people. It’s breathtaking to me that not one person looked at this shot and had the same reaction that the internet seems to be feeling since the campaign broke.  THAT IS AN ISSUE.  We must do better.  Our girls, our young women deserve better.  Let this be a moment of learning. #Education is key #wehavetodobetter #vernonfrancois #Ignorance #blackgirlmagic #allhairisgoodhair

A post shared by Vernon François (@vernonfrancois) on

The young model has Type 4 hair, which often isn’t even represented in ads and campaigns. The other issue is that often at fashion shows or shoots, Black models are forced to do their hair themselves because hairstylists who can do their hair are not hired on set. Yes, despite all the diversity initiatives, we are still having this issue in 2019.

Francois stated via his Instagram, “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 then capable of styling other hair textures. My heart breaks imagining yet another girl from my community sitting in front of a mirror being ignored by the team around her, left to her own devices because someone didn’t know how to handle her texture.”

‘Nuff said. Of course when social media got their hands on this, H&M released a statement to Essence, “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.”

Well.

It is true that a young Black girl with Type 4 hair could leave her house with her hair looking together and after school and rough play on the playground, look like this. This is natural, Type 4 hair, without a brush and edge control. If people were shocked, is it normally because we are used to seeing it “tamed”?

Personally, I understand what H&M is trying to do; however, I believe that an image lasts a lifetime. If all the other kids are represented looking polish, I’d appreciate if someone put a paddle brush to this child’s hair and helped to smooth her afro puff.

Beauties, we want you to weigh in: is H&M right or wrong for leaving this young girls hair in its natural state? Take our poll and sound off in the comment section.

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Laquan Smith - September 2019 - New York Fashion Week
25 photos

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