Social media was abuzz Monday after the internet caught wind of a controversial ad on H&M’s website.
The retailer suffered some major backlash after adding a photo to their UK online store depicting an African-American child modeling a sweater that read “coolest monkey in the jungle,” prompting criticism over its racist undertones and complete lack of awareness.
— alex medina (@mrmedina) January 8, 2018
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Smh @hm did y’all even think about the history that us African Americans went through. This is crazy. Some people take this as a joke but this is serious. If only you white people knew what our African American ancestors went through. This has to stop.
( And yes I am half black ) pic.twitter.com/UiwAICWRY3
— Ihsaan 🍯 (@EsonnM216) January 9, 2018
The initial shock and controversy led to questions being asked about how something like this could have happened. But despite the image being seen by stylists, editors, executives, and printers, no one seemed to think it was an issue. Now people are calling for an outright boycott of the fashion brand.
The blunder, if you can call it that, even has celebrities condemning the retailer. The Weeknd officially announced he’s cutting ties with them over the issue.
“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo,” The Toronto rapper tweeted. “I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…”
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
The rapper has had numerous collaborations with the brand, the last being in September. No word yet whether those pieces will be removed from stores.
H&M has since apologized in a statement saying, “We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”
As of now, the sweater is still available for purchase online, but the model’s photo has been removed.