They said/We said: H&M apologizes for an ad campaign that makes Tanning Mom look pale

After coming under fire for a swimsuit campaign featuring a darkly bronzed Isabeli Fontana, Swedish retail giant H&M has released an apology.

“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 behaviour, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection,” they said in an email to AFP. “We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns.”

A very brown Fontana poses against an ocean backdrop in the campaign, which has been splashed across billboards in Europe and on the retailer’s UK website.

The Swedish Cancer Society was one of the first critics of the campaign, saying in a statement that the campaign created a “dangerous ideal” for beauty. They added that skin cancer actually kills more Swedes per year than car accidents, and that the retailer was simply adding to the problem.

Despite acknowledging their critics’ concerns, H&M also defended the campaign by saying that Fontana, who is Brazilian, is naturally darker than many European women.

Though Fontana does have olive undertones, she is very clearly and distinctly darker in the H&M campaign than in other images of the model.

On the heels of Tanning Mom’s recent arrest and the impending heat of the summer, now has never been a better time to start being more sun aware! Always wear SPF 30 or higher, cover up where needed and wear a hat! To achieve a tan the healthy way, gradual tanners or spray tans will always be your safest bet.


Nikia Phoenix: “Whoa! She makes me feel pale and I’m black.” [Twitter]

Swedish Cancer Society: “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.” [AFP]

Les Berlinettes: “Isabeli Fontana for H&M is as tan as the crazy tanning mom who took her 5 years old daughter to a tanning salon….” [Twitter]


Sarah Daniel, beauty editor: “It’s called a spray tan, people. If the H&M campaign actually inspires anyone to get bronzed the old-fashioned way, watch this.”