H&M controversial ad causes social media uproar

Erica McKinnon

When the H&M ad controversy surfaced on social media, there was extreme media backlash of both the clothing company and the mother of the young model. 

On Jan. 8, a young black male model from the U.K. modeled for H&M’s ad, sporting a green hoodie with the slogan “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” across his chest. 

“The hoodie, which was sold in the clothing U.K. stores, sparked a social media backlash, with consumers vowing to stop shopping and calling for an investigation,” according to CBS News. In my opinion, consumers have every right to stop shopping at H&M because what they are promoting is racial insensitivity. Since the ad controversy, I stopped, shopping at H&M because why shop at a company that doesn’t respect or represent people of color? 

There is nothing cool about H&M mocking a race that has been called derogatory terms like “monkey,” “gorilla,” “tar baby” and far worse terms that will shatter a person’s confidence. There is nothing cool about H&M choosing an innocent child to model something so demeaning and disrespectful for the monetary gain of their company. H&M is not the only one to blame, but the mother of the model is the main person to blame because she agreed to this nonsense of an ad. I call this act nonsense because it displays a lack of care ,or better yet, a sense of ignorance. It is blatantly mocking the history of a resilient group of people who were stripped of any self-dignity they had. Is this is the thanks they get? 

Many years ago, people of color didn’t have the ability to defend themselves when being called out of their name. While the mother of this child had a choice and chose to ignore the significance behind the ad. 

Celebrities from P. Diddy to The Weeknd expressed their anger toward the ad. 

“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I am deeply offended and will not be working with [H&M] anymore.”

The Weeknd tweeted from his personal Twitter account, according to CBS news.

P. Diddy went to the length of offering the young U.K. model a million-dollar modeling contract with his clothing brand, Sean John. On a positive note, artists took to social media and redesigned the hoodie from “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” to “Coolest King in the World,” which symbolized that the model and any other people of color should be respected as the person they are. 

What I have come to realize is, as consumers of certain retail companies, there should not be an expectation for companies to represent people of color, or any cultures for that matter, because at the end of the day, it is about making a dollar. There is a saying that is relevant to the ad controversy and it is “bad publicity is still publicity.” This saying makes me question if H&M or other retail companies pull ignorant stunts like this on purpose for company publicity? Even though H&M received a large amount of negative backlash, they knew that they apologized they would still have some support. Unfortunately, a weak apology from H&M and a nonchalant response from the mother of the model shows that there is still a long road ahead of us as far as knowing the difference between what is acceptable and is not acceptable.

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