There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet (and on HelloBeautiful) about a recent ad where a young Black girl, who is beautiful, is being featured in a new series of ads for H&M.
See one celebrity hairstylist, Vernon Francois, caught a glimpse of one of the pictures online and lashed out against H&M for “neglecting” Black models. In his post, while being open about not knowing “any details” of the shoot, he accused H&M of not having an appropriate stylist and “ignoring” the girl on set.
“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 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,” he wrote on Thursday night.
Adding, “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’. Let’s 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.”
And of course, Black celebs jumped on the bandwagon citing how once again the fashion industry has failed us.
Cynthia Ervo, who plays Harriet Tubman in the upcoming film Harriet, replied, “It just has to stop, responsibility should be taken and education must be had.”
Netflix’s GLOW actress Sydelle Noel added, “Well said and it breaks my heart and takes me back to painful memories of when I was first starting in this business and makeup and hair not knowing what to do with me. Not to mention it’s still happening!”
And former Glee star Amber Riley also weighed in: “Well said. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in a makeup or hair chair and the “artists” look dumbfounded of simply do not CARE. Then I have to result to wigs which I hate because hours in a wig under hot lights is not fun for me.”
They were not alone.
Granted, it’s not a secret that the fashion industry is utter trash when it comes to being inclusive behind the scenes. From Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell to Yvette Brown to Gabrielle Union, we have read story after story about how Black models and actresses show up on set and have to do their own makeup or hair because the stylists hired only have Fenty in shades 200 or lighter or shake in their red bottoms at the thought of having to blow out 4B hair. That and even H&M has a racist past. Remember that whole “The coolest monkey in the jungle” nonsense?
No, I don’t want to undermine these experiences because they are real, problematic and need to be remedied ASAP. But is this particular instance straight-up racism or is something else at play? Well, let H&M tell it, perhaps it’s something else.
In a tweet, the retailer claims they wanted to focus on the idea of everyday children living their best lives in their clothes after a long day at school.
“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,” the Swedish-based company said in a statement on Friday.
So…Who’s allowed to have messy hair? Just white and Asian girls with straight or wavy hair? Cause let y’all tell it, it’s definitely not everyday Black girls with 4C hair that reminds y’all of “slaves.”
But riddle me this: If her hair was relaxed and her edges slicked back, would that have been more respectable? If her ponytail had been less of a struggle and her kitchen less “damaged” would you have been more inclined to label her as #BlackGirlMagic?
Miss me with your “concern” for Black women. (Especially since some of you tried this same mess when Lupita came onto the scene, claiming that white people were trying to humiliate us by making this dark-skinned woman a beauty icon when really the issue is that you refused to see her and her melanin as beautiful, but I digress)
Meanwhile, where was this same energy for these babies below with their “unkempt hair” in another H&M campaign that dropped this summer?
Crickets, cause their fros aren’t kinky, they have 3B/3C “desirable” hair and not to mention, they are lighter-skinned. They good. They giving you Tracee Ellis Ross vibes.
Honestly, this is exactly why a lot of this outrage is suspect to me. I don’t believe that most of you actually care about this girl or her feelings about being neglected on set. I think you’re more concerned about how her hair makes you look to the white people who are trying to impress or prove that you are worthy of, causing you to project your own anti-blackness, self-hatred, and insecurities about your “nappy hair” onto a girl who cannot defend herself.
It’s also not surprising to me that Vernon failed to include in his original post or follow up on the fact that there are other pictures of this same little girl, living her best life with her perfect 4C hair and killing it:
While I refuse to debate a child’s edges or her humanity, what I will say is that we are living in a world where Black folks are being humiliated by having their locks cut out at wrestling matches, are being pushed out of school because they have braids or their hair is “too long,” and even being denied employment because of what grows out of their heads. And as much as this is about white supremacy, how much of that have we internalized on our own? Think about it.
It’s so funny because y’all snapped your fingers and screamed “Yaaaassss,” when Beyonce said in Homecoming that she wanted for her dancers “to rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right. I wanted everyone to feel thankful for their curves, their sass, their honesty – thankful for their freedom.”
So let’s extend that same sentiment to little girls like the one who don’t need Eco Styler or Just For Me to be beautiful. They are perfect as is, in the freedom of their glorious naps, beads, and kitchens.
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