Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll have seen that L’Oreal added Amena Khan – a Muslim hijabi business women and YouTube influencer – to their hair product campaign. The revolutionary thing here is that Amena is a hijabi Muslim and there has never been a hijabi Muslim woman in a hair campaign.
For about a week the headlines surrounding Amena were gushing with celebration. But then, sometime mid-January someone discovered some of Amena’s old (2014) tweets that were considered to be anti-semitic. Amena swiftly stepped down from the campaign and L’Oreal released another statement saying they agreed with this decision. There is a lot to address here. Like, for example, if Amena’s tweets were objectively anti-semitic or not. I think out of the 4 tweets, 2 could be. I say this because I do think it’s possible to be critical of Israel without being anti-semitic. Amena has since retracted her tweets.
Three things: I wish she had not stepped down from the campaign, because how often do we see Muslim hijabi women on platforms like L’Oreal? Well, frankly we don’t.
Secondly I find it strange and hypocritical that Gal Gadot aka Wonder Woman can vocalise her support for the IDF (Israel Army) and in no way have that reflect upon her or hinder her career especially as a brand ambassador for another major makeup brand but a hijabi Muslim women is not allowed to voice her political opinions- albeit badly worded opinions – on Israel. How come we are holding one woman accountable and not the other?
The third thing I wanted to discuss here is how shit L’Oreal is and how i’m so done with them. This is the second time L’Oreal has fallen into a controversy like this. I would like all brands to seriously consider the inclusion of people/women of colour, because if women/people of colour are okay to use as empty shells without our opinions and thoughts and are dropped the second our opinions differ from the status quo then these companies attempts at inclusivity are just superficial and not about empowering everyone/all women. Companies need to anticipate that people of colour will have different opinions to them and they need to support the freedom of speech of those who have different opinions because that is what inclusivity is.