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H&M Under Fire For The Use Of A Ridiculously Tan, Blatantly Altered Model

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H&M made Tanning Mom so proud with their new swimwear ad, which features model Isabeli Fontana flaunting skin the color of coffee beans. The Swedish fast-fashion retailer was forced to apologize Thursday after the campaign in question left doctors, critics, and cancer groups roaring with outrage. The photos are clearly altered — though Fontana, who is of Brazilian descent, is naturally bronzed, the skin tone she’s been given is closer to that of an African-American. It seems like the change was meant to highlight the contrast between the complexion and the brightly-hued bathing suits, but if that’s the case, why wouldn’t they just use a black model? Regardless, the Swedish Cancer Society in particular was not amused and reached out yesterday morning with a piece in the country’s most-circulated newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. The letter reads:

“The clothing giant is creating, not least among young people, a beauty ideal that is deadly. Every year, more people die in Sweden of (skin cancer) than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning. Regardless of how the H&M model got her tan, through sunning or a computer programme, the effect is the same: H&M tells us we should be very tan on the beach. It is sad to write this, but H&M will through its latest advertising campaign not only sell more bathing suits but also contribute to more people dying from skin cancer.”

H&M’s response was rudimentary (“We are sorry if we have upset anyone with our latest swimwear campaign. It was not our intention to show off a specific ideal or to encourage dangerous behaviour, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection.”) and failed to highlight the root of the problem, which is encouraging an unrealistic level of tan as something not only achievable, but desirable. I ask again, why wouldn’t they just use a black model? I guess that’s another discussion entirely. [Daily News]

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