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H&M apologizes for super-tan bikini model ad

10 May 2012, 16:38

Published: 10 May 2012 16:38 GMT+02:00

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"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," the company said in an email sent to AFP.

"We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns," it added.

When speaking with The Local on Wednesday, H&M had initially defended the ads in the face of criticism from cancer researchers in Switzerland, explaining it had chosen a model with darker skin in order to best show off the swimwear's bright colours.

“The model in the swimwear campaign is called Isabeli Fontana and she is Brazilian, which means that she has a darker skin tone than most Europeans,” an H&M representative told The Local.

But H&M reversed its stance on the campaign after the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden) on Thursday blasted the advertisements, which feature Fontana wearing brightly-coloured swimwear accentuated by a dark-brown tan.

"The clothing giant is creating, not least among young people, a beauty ideal that is deadly," the cancer society wrote in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper on Thursday.

"Every year, more people die in Sweden of (skin cancer) than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning," the group said.

"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 said.

"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."

The adverts were slammed earlier in the week by a cancer awareness groups in Switzerland which reacted negatively to the use of Fontana bronzed body.

“Many people, especially the young, will try to emulate this and will try to be just as brown, although with some skin types it is just not possible," Dr. Ralph Braun, from the Early Skin Cancer Centre at Zurich University Hospital, told online news site 20 Minuten.

Even former Miss Switzerland Amanda Ammann, who has previously suffered from skin cancer, joined in the criticism.

Story continues below…

“I think it's a shame, because such advertising gives the wrong impression. People will try to imitate this unrealistic ideal,” she told 20 Minuten.

H&M has previously come under fire for using very thin models in its advertising campaigns.

AFP/The Local

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Your comments about this article

17:42 May 10, 2012 by johnny1939
I am so sick and tired of the press and others thinking that people have no common sense. Who makes decision based on a silly ad.
17:43 May 10, 2012 by Vermaldeehide
Patricia Krentcil?
17:48 May 10, 2012 by fancyavi
alot of people especially young impressionable persons will be affected. what H&M should do in his ads is use a wide range of models from black, white, Asian etc backgrounds and of different sizes and different ages so that all will see themselves in the cloths and be interested. this is why only a small group of women i.e thin, young, white etc ....are the main customer base for H&M.
21:46 May 10, 2012 by rachann
Just because Sweden doesn't get sun and the people don't get tan here doesn't mean the Swedes need to hate on people with natural beauty.
23:45 May 10, 2012 by entry
I am dramatically and actually physically affected by this super-tan bikini model advertisement! This is not a complaint.
00:47 May 11, 2012 by Black Beauty
If it was a dark skinned model that H&M needed, then why didn't they use a Black model? She would have the required "tan" naturally to make the colours pop! Are we THAT despised in your country?
01:18 May 11, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
I hope H&M pulls this ad immediately! Tanning is a horrible thing for your body and it also looks disgusting on everyone.
04:43 May 11, 2012 by Lunneia
@ Black Beauty.

You are absolutely right!

...Whites are desperately trying to look dark in order to feel good and dark-skinned women are desperately bleaching their skins in their bid to look better!

Pathetic world!

Those who have it don't want it and those who want it don't have it! That said, why not just use a black woman in the ad instead?

OOPS! I forgot i was still in Sweden!
08:12 May 11, 2012 by fikatid
Oh please, come on, people. They just love to complain. They should then ban all ads that feature women with big boobs, guys who are muscular, women and men who are not "lagom". Give me a break!

They should ban the Dressman underwear ad then. Stupid people.
08:32 May 11, 2012 by rise
Moral to learn: never use other models but those with a white skin!
09:38 May 11, 2012 by Rishonim
What a heap of cry cry babies moonshine. The ad doesn't force people to go and bake themselves in the sun. It is simple stating that they wanted to enhance the bikini and in certain way it looks better on someone with darker skin. Where is the free choice?? I am lactose intolerant yet i am not going about crying for them to ban adverts of milk/icecream. I also agree with Black Beauty and Lunneia
20:53 June 23, 2012 by yuri_nahl
What a pile of dung! If you know the sun causes cancer and you insist on baking yourself in the sun, that indicates you have not used your judgement and need a skin transplant.
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