H&M sparked outrage on social media over the weekened for posing a black child model in a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle.”
The term “monkey” has a long history as an ethnic slur.
Reacting to the photograph, many netizens skewered H&M for what they described as tasteless and racist imagery:
While some netizens blamed carelessness, a lack of cultural awareness or bad styling decisions for the retailer’s mistake, others weren’t quite so forgiving.
“I am certain H&M is aware of the negative connotations presented,” wrote one Twitter user. Another said the choice to model a black child instead of a white child in this specific hoodie, which came in two other colors and designs, was no “accident.”
One person pointed out that the sweatshirt in orange ― with the words “Survival Expert” and “Junior Tour Guide” on it ― was modeled by a white child. “The entire narrative is a fail for 2018,” said the Twitter user.
The third design, a navy and white animal print with no words, was also modeled by a white child.
Songwriter Wendy Parr blasted the sweatshirt pairing choices:
H&M has not responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.