Emily Ratajkowski Hair Faux Pas
“Hair is a fundamental part of beauty, femininity, and identity.” The words posted by model Emily Ratajkowski were insensitive, to say the least. This was part of her Instagram message for a new campaign with French hair care brand Kérastase. Once her post went live on Instagram the backlash was quick to erupt.
Ratajkowski’s words were a reminder of how narrow-minded perceptions of hair loss can be. That those without hair cannot enjoy their “Beauty, femininity, and identity,” is offensive. What Ms Ratajkowski posted was wrong. But we must remember that the phrase was part of Kerastase’s branded campaign. And this is where the real problem lies.
It’s more complicated than we think
Suffering from alopecia, or disease-related hair loss is already difficult enough. How society perceives their physical appearance is of great importance. Marketing influences many people’s views about what beauty and femininity should be. We live in an ‘enlightened age’ where you would expect far more sensitivity but this is not the case. Money controls the images of beauty used in campaigns. Whatever a brand believes will create the largest profit dictates the images we see. Regardless of the damage, it may cause to wider society.
We are so used to seeing models like Emily Ratajkowski promoting brands that we rarely stop to think. Brands portray beauty as skinny models with high cheekbones and flowing hair. How often do we see hair products promoted by people that reflect reality? It can leave those dealing with hair loss feeling inadequate and insecure. A similar accusation has seen fashion designers criticised for the models they hire. Yet there has been little change in how beauty brands market to the general public. They seem beyond reproach. All the while people are left feeling less confident and unable to express their beauty.
The time has come for change
There is no denying how beautiful hair can be and how much people enjoy shaping and styling it. But those experiencing hair loss should not have to feel inadequate at the expense of others. As humans, hair is but one part of our make-up and is not at all fundamental to our expression of beauty. There needs to be a big change in how people view hair loss and baldness. The stigma attached to it creates unfair stress and depression that no-one deserves. The beauty industry plays a huge role in all this. By 2020 sales in the industry are set to reach $675 billion. It’s time for an industry with so much influence on our visual values to change. Too much control and not enough responsibility has created a non-inclusive attitude.
Of course, both Emily Ratajkowski and Kérastase have issued apologies. On the face of things, we should accept these as genuine. But apologies fade away quickly over time. And those dealing with hair loss will continue to feel side-lined when not included in the conversation. The spectrum of human beauty is vast and wide. It covers every skin colour, shape and size. We should all be above judging others by their looks.
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