Emily Ratajkowski was just announced as the new face (and hair!) of Kérastase Paris. What started as a seemingly innocuous Instagram post to share news of the partnership quickly turned into a fight over the model/actress/activist’s choice of words in her caption.
Posting the black-and-white campaign image, she [initially] wrote: “Hair is a fundamental part of beauty, femininity, and identity. So excited to announce that I am the new face of @kerastase_official!” Her comment section was flooded with followers accusing the model of shaming and offending the millions of women who suffer from hair loss. “Fundamental was truly not the right word, and to those of you who have lost your hair due to cancer and other causes just know this post is wrong and you are beautiful without it. It doesn’t determine your identity or your femininity,” wrote one follower.
Other followers jumped to her defense: “I own two salons, we are proud to carry Kerastase. I am also a stylist. I have sadly helped many clients through losing their hair due to medical conditions. Although your hair does not define your beauty, most women and men are concerned about the loss or a thinning of their hair. I have clients in tears as I’ve made house call to cut their hair before they start treatments. Their health is their main concern, but my clients always want to know what their hair will be like when it grows back. Kerastase offers some amazing products to help them. I’m pretty sure @emrata and @kerastase_official did not mean to hurt anyone with this campaign.”
The conversation continued over on Kérastase’s Instagram page, and the brand issued an apology in the form of a comment. “We are deeply sorry about that, we didn’t want to cause any harm to anyone with the caption. Of course beauty is not defined by your hair, beauty is something more spiritual, beauty is an attitude coming from inside each of us. Our new muse, Emily, thinks that her hair is a way to express herself. As she said, ‘Everyone is uniquely beautiful in their own way; and we agree. We apologize for the misunderstanding of our previous caption because it seems like we were making a one-way statement, forgetting the rest of the multiple variations of beauty. We honestly tell you we’re very sorry and thanks for your testimony because through it we are learning everyday.”
While the model has changed her caption, the statement she gave to the brand about her new partnership did previously provide insight into her intent. “I am excited and proud to be chosen as a Kérastase ambassador. Hair is essential to how I express myself. I love that feeling of clean, textured, natural hair, that instantly makes me feel more confident,” she says. “I consider my hair as the reflection of my inner strength. It’s not an ornament but a way to express myself. I think that’s true for all women. There’s such an empowering femininity to hair. It allows women to define who they want to be. That’s why they deserve the best care.”
This marks Ratajkowski’s first beauty campaign. Previous Kérastase brand ambassadors include Kate Moss and January Jones.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.