Just days after "tanorexia" became a household word (thanks to New Jersey Tanning Mom Patricia Krentcil), fashion retailer H&M has come under fire for featuring a deeply tanned model in their latest swimwear campaign, sparking outrage from the Swedish Cancer Society for promoting tanning as a fashion accessory.
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"The clothing giant is creating, not least among young people, a beauty ideal that is deadly," the group wrote in an opinion piece in the Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Thursday, AFP reported. "Every year, more people die in Sweden of [skin cancer] than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning."
By the end of the day, H&M had apologized.
"We are sorry if we have upset anyone with our latest swimwear campaign. It was not our intention to show off a specific ideal or to encourage dangerous behavior, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection," the Swedish clothing company said in an email. "We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns."
The pictures in H&M's "Beach Sensation" collection feature Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana wearing brightly colored bathing suits and a dark tan while posing on a beach. The tiny two-pieces show off more skin than swim suit, and she appears darker in some of the photos than in others.
Given her usually golden skin tone, it's probably safe to assume that Fontana went from naturally tan to burnished bronze for the photo shoot with a little artificial help, not by spending hours under the sun (or in a tanning booth). But the fact that genetics, lighting, photoshop, spray tanning, or even makeup could have accounted for her bronzed look doesn't matter, the cancer group said.
"Regardless of how the H&M model got her tan, through sunning or a computer program, the effect is the same: H&M tells us we should be very tan on the beach," they wrote in the opinion piece. "It is sad to write this, but H&M will, through its latest advertising campaign, not only sell more bathing suits but also contribute to more people dying from skin cancer."
It seems like a stretch to say that a clothing campaign could single-handedly lead to an uptick in skin-cancer, especially given the media focus on the dangers of tanning beds. Take a look at the H&M swimsuit spread and other photos of model Isabeli Fontana and comment: Are we too worried about tanning?
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