An Australian YouTuber has been forced to apologise after she was called out for cultural appropriation for wearing double braids in a new campaign.
Sarah Stevenson, uploaded a video to her Instagram page showing a teaser for her new activewear collaboration with White Fox Boutique, due to hit shelves on June 2.
However, within hours, the post was inundated with comments from horrified fans, who called her ‘culturally insensitive’ for styling her hair into two long, blue braids for the video.
“You have a huge platform and you can’t seriously be this culturally unaware,” one person wrote.
“I love everything you do and I’m so happy to see how far you’ve come! But this was a bit culturally insensitive. It would be great if you could address this and have a second go at the campaign. Maybe feature some strong black women in the above look alongside you,” another person wrote.
“Address the issue by deleting the image, reshooting the campaign and ACKNOWLEDGING it as being harmful,” another person commented.
Sarah, who is mum to her baby boy Fox and has 1.1 million followers on Instagram, responded to the backlash, saying she was ‘heartbroken’ and was pulling the campaign before its release.
“In no way am I trying to make ‘excuses’ or justify my actions, I’m responding and providing answers to the questions I’ve been asked as to why we chose the double braids hairstyle for the campaign,” she wrote.
“In my first activewear campaign, I wore 4 braids. Our vision was to take inspiration from all of my previous campaigns, but elevate it.
“I created a mood board which was full of festival hairstyles including colour, length and braids. We selected various elements of our past activewear campaigns to show the evolution of my life and fitness since becoming pregnant etc.
“Upon posting the images, I have been made aware of the controversy surrounding this kind of hair style. As I wear my hair in braids regularly and have had blonde extensions braided before, we genuinely thought it was an elevated photoshoot choice to add the blue extensions in to match the collection colours.”
She went on to say that it ‘genuinely’ breaks her heart to have offended anyone and said she has been educating herself on the topic of cultural appropriation.
“I’d be lying if I said I completely understood what was ok and what wasn’t. I’m still doing my best to understand and be aware,” she said.
After the backlash, Sarah has pulled the campaign, after spending three months working on it.
“I just feel really emotional after today. I feel like I just need to take a breather next week and I just feel bad for Fox,” she said later on her Instagram stories.
“Today was just me crying and me being upset and then I looked over and I just felt like I had no time for him today. I just hate feeling like a bad mum. “
“Aw man, what a life. Life of a YouTuber, I would not recommend,” she joked, saying it’s just been a bad day.
Just today, Sarah shot new images for the campaign, styling her hair in one blonde plait instead of two braids.
“I nearly cried doing my hair this morning. I’m so scared to do something wrong and upset people,” she wrote.
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