H&M in hot water over swimsuit ad campaign featuring overly-tanned model

Vanessa Green
Yahoo Lifestyle


Twenty years ago, an overly-bronzed model wouldn’t have caused us to bat an eye – but today it’s got cancer experts fuming.

A new H&M ad campaign has angered doctors and health officials who believe young people exposed to the images will try and imitate the unhealthy look.

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The model in the ads, Isabeli Fontana, is shown with a deep  mahogany tan while wearing a collection of swimsuits for the retail giant’s website and billboards across Europe.


One expert speaking out is Dr Ralph Braun, a dermatologist and professor at the Early Skin Cancer Centre at Zurich University Hospital.

“Many people, especially the young, will try to emulate this and will try to be just as brown, although with some skin types this is just not possible,” he states. “I find this advertisement very alarming.”

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In the UK, the British Skin Foundation also criticised the advertising campaign and told Yahoo! Lifestyle:

“Whilst the British Skin Foundation recognises H&M are entitled to use whatever imagery they wish in their advertising campaigns we hope most consumers, especially the young, are intelligent enough to understand the risks of seeking a natural tan to this extent.  If consumers seek to be bronzed in this way we would always advise seeking fake alternatives and reiterate there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ natural tan.”

The retailer have defended the ads saying they used Isabeli Fontana as her darker skin colour was the best way to showcase the strong colours of the season.

However, images from runway shows show the model with a markedly lighter skin tone than the one featured in the ads.

Addiction to tanning is becoming a serious issue and a condition doctors are referring to as ‘tanorexia’. 

Last week, an overly- tanned US woman named Patricia Krentcil was charged with taking her five-year-old, fair-skinned daughter into a tanning booth.

Images of the mum stormed the web, causing many to comment on her dark and dangerous-looking skin colour. 

But an anti-tanning backlash is growing. Tongue-in-cheek website paleisthenewtan.com embraces natural skin tones while poking fun at those who are overly-bronzed and has become an internet hit.

What do you think of the H&M ads? Is that a healthy golden glow or bronze overload?