Swedish cheap-and-chic fashion giant H&M issued an apology Thursday after coming under fire among cancer groups over a swimwear campaign featuring a Brazilian model in bright swimsuits and a very, very dark tan.
"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 behavior, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection," the company said in an email sent to AFP.
While H&M did defend itself by saying the goal was to highlight the bathing suits — as opposed to the color of the model's skin — it also said, "We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns," the Daily Mail reports.
H&M's apology came after the Swedish Cancer Society and other critics blasted H&M for what it characterized as creating a "deadly" standard of beauty that unduly influenced young people to tan. It said images like the swimsuit ad campaign "contribute to more people dying from skin cancer."
"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 Sweden's paper of reference Dagens Nyheter Thursday.
"Every year, more people die in Sweden of (skin cancer) than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning," the Society wrote in an opinion article in the Thursday edition of Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, according to the AFP.
According to MSNBC, the Cancer Society did acknowledge that it was possible that usually olive-skinned Brazilian Fontana could have been faked with computer enhancements, but said the image was harmful either way.
Isabeli Fontana (L) photographed on a previous occasion with a much lighter skintone. Isabeli Fontana (R) models H&M's new swimwear collection.
"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."
Hot or Not? What do you think? Should H&M have apologized for this ad campaign?