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Model for L’Oreal steps down due to criticism over controversial opinions

Recently, L’Oreal, for the first time ever, hired a hijabi model for its new haircare campaign. Amena Khan, British Youtube-vlogger, model and co-founder of Ardere Cosmetics became the first scarf-wearing woman to be a model for a hair advertisement campaign. The title didn’t last long though, as just four days after being announced, Khan disclosed that she was stepping down as a model.  

In the four days Khan was a L’Oreal model, she was criticized endlessly. Viewers condemned the company for hiring a hijabi-model for a hair advertisement, saying it, “didn’t make any sense.” Also, through Twitter, old posts that Khan had made from 2014 resurfaced. The tweets supported Palestine and denounced Israel during the 2014 Gaza war, a controversial opinion. People erupted over the old tweets, calling Khan out for her side on the conflict and the strong words she used. The intense scrutiny against Khan ultimately caused her to step down from the campaign. Unsurprisingly enough, L’Oreal released a statement agreeing with her decision and as a Huffington Post article said, “They weren’t sad to see her go.”

After proudly wearing its ‘diversity’ badge, L’Oreal dropped Khan quickly after being chastised for her opinion on a controversial topic. L’Oreal says the company is, “Committed to tolerance and respect for all people” But, not when you have the unpopular opinion on top of being a minority. So the fact remains, big companies are all for diversity in race until those individuals speak up about their controversial opinions.

The issue of diversity in both race and opinion, contrary to popular belief, has never gone away.

More so in recent years, students are taught about problems concerning diversity and freedom of speech in past tense, again and again, through both history and English classes.”

In the last two years, though, the hidden injustices of our modern society have been coming to light, being questioned, and finally being talked about openly. What happened with Khan is a clear representation of this issue. L’Oreal supported Khan as a hijabi, in their goal of being more diverse, until her opinions and thoughts on certain matters were revealed.

The double standard of who is socially-acceptable to speak up on their personal opinions is not so hidden either. Actress Gal Gadot openly supports Israel and the Israeli army and is still supported and celebrated by many for being an empowering, woman icon– while Amena Khan was disgraced for her opposing opinions on the same issue.

After stepping down, Amena released a statement apologizing for the tweets, to which her supporters said she should not have had to do. She shouldn’t have been pushed to apologize for vocalizing her opinion and having a voice. Khan later clarified that she still supports her opinions and has not changed her mind on those statements, but was apologizing for her strong wording and potentially offending people in her tweets. Though it was still not harsh enough for her to have been forced to apologize for.

Constantly, actors and singers vocalize their thoughts on controversial issues and rarely are they so strongly attacked for their words to where they are forced to step down from a position. With people of minority, however, it’s no secret they are under more scrutiny. When being in an open, more social situation, there is no room for questionable actions or words. It’s only acceptable for minorities to show their best selves and be agreeable with everyone– in other words, minorities are only socially acceptable for showcasing inclusivity and diversity. It’s rare to see a minority be praised or recognized for their voice, though, when they are, they tend to be walking a thin line of acknowledgment. Being part of a minority is like being the trophy wife of diversity, then being cursed at when raising your voice. Instead of continuing to write off this issue as overreacting individuals and something that has always been set in stone, unchangeable– let’s correct it.

Your turn: Do you think it’s acceptable for a company to let you go for your personal opinions? To what extent is diversity allowed, in terms of race, religion, and opinion, when campaigning to be more inclusive?

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Minority voices deserve space