Update: Just days after being announced as the first woman to wear a hijab in a major hair campaign, UK-based beauty blogger Amena Khan is stepping down from her role with L'Oréal Paris after public backlash over tweets she wrote in 2014, which were said to have expressed "anti-Israel" views, according to BBC.
“I deeply regret the content of the tweets I made in 2014, and sincerely apologise for the upset and hurt that they have caused," Khan wrote in an Instagram post earlier today. "Championing diversity is one of my passions, I don’t discriminate against anyone. I have chosen to delete them as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for. I recently took part in a campaign, which excited me because it celebrated inclusivity. With deep regret, I’ve decided to step down from this campaign because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver.”
A representative from L'Oréal told BBC, "We appreciate that Amena has since apologised for the content of these tweets and the offence they have caused. L'Oréal Paris is committed to tolerance and respect towards all people. We agree with her decision to step down from the campaign.”
The move comes four months after L'Oréal Paris dropped model Munroe Bergdorf from its True Match campaign, of which Khan was also a face. (As of press time, Khan was still featured on the True Match campaign website.) We've reached out to L'Oréal Paris for comment and will update this post as we hear more.
This story was originally published January 18, 2018.
Amena Khan has made history by being the first woman wearing a hijab to star in a major haircare campaign. L’Oréal Paris Elvive teamed up with a group of British ambassadors and influencers for its latest ad, "to celebrate and explore their unique – sometimes tricky – but ultimately incredible relationship they have with their hair." The campaign, which was shot by photographer Rankin, features the Muslim influencer in a pink headscarf and matching blush lip shade.
“How many brands are doing things like this? Not many. They’re literally putting a girl in a headscarf – whose hair you can’t see – in a hair campaign. Because what they’re really valuing through the campaign is the voices that we have,” said Khan when speaking to Vogue this week.
The Elvive multimedia campaign is just the latest in a series of moves towards inclusivity and diversity by L’Oréal. Evolving their signature "Because you're worth it" slogan to "Because we're all worth it," the haircare giant is obviously putting representation front and centre, no longer focusing on the Eurocentric ideals of beauty we've seen in the past.
“L’Oréal Paris UK are both proud and excited to be launching such a unique and disruptive campaign for the haircare market, a category which in previous years has been perceived as the cliché of beauty advertising," Adrien Koskas, L’Oréal Paris UK general manager, said in a brand statement. "We want to create campaigns that deeply connect with our consumers through spokespeople that inject sincerity, emotion and personality.”
Highlighting the fact that women who don't show their hair still care about their locks, she added: “You have to wonder – why is it presumed that women that don’t show their hair don’t look after it? The opposite of that would be that everyone that does show their hair only looks after it for the sake of showing it to others. And that mindset strips us of our autonomy and our sense of independence. Hair is a big part of self-care.”
“For me, my hair is an extension of my femininity. I love styling my hair, I love putting products in it, and I love it to smell nice. It’s an expression of who I am,” Khan told Vogue. Countering the misconceptions about women who wear the hijab and their relationship with their hair, she pointed out that while she wears her headscarf in public, at home and with family, she doesn't. “And even if that expression is for my home life and my loved ones and for me when I look in the mirror, it’s who I am. If I know my hair is greasy but I have a scarf on it, I still feel rubbish all day – even if it’s covered.”
The campaign also comes as part of a wider industry shift away from stereotypical – and dated – ideas of perfection and towards inclusivity – of every woman, man and non-binary customer. From Fenty's 40-strong shade range of coverage products to ASOS' joyful and inclusive Face + Body campaign, it looks like 2018 will only bring a more positive and reflective beauty industry. Amen.