Kadeeja Khan said it left her in a “dark place.”
The beauty blogger from the United Kingdom told The Sun that an agency working with L’Oréal had reached out to her and asked whether she would be part of its new campaign for vegan hair dye. Khan, who has a following on YouTube and Instagram, said she accepted the offer and would travel to Paris for the launch.
Then the woman received another email from the casting agency.
“I’m sorry to tell you that I have a bad news for you,” the email read, according to screenshot obtained by Cosmopolitan. “We can’t confirm the shooting with you.
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“L’Oréal can’t be involved with people with skin issues (question of regulations) that’s why they decided to change the line of project at the last moment.”
Khan shared a blurred-out version of the email on Instagram, writing “shame on you L’Oréal.”
The message especially “gobsmacked” the beauty guru because the company had reached out to her with the opportunity, she told The Sun.
“My whole Instagram is about sharing unedited photos, and I am very honest about my acne,” she said. “I don’t know why they would get my hopes up just to let me down — they were the ones to reach out to me not the other way around.
“They must have known what I post about on my social media before contacting me.”
“Truly it did put me in a dark place. I’ve come on this platform to show everyone who I am & what I’m about. I’m trying my best to shine the light on the things that matter,” she wrote. “Show everyone that ‘yes you don’t have to be perfect! Love yourself regardless’. I’m already used to ‘trolls’ trying & bring me down.
“But coming from a global international brand? .. Really hurt,” she continued. “It honestly made me feel like their (sic) really isn’t any room in the industry for people like me.”
Khan said her posts about the incident quickly went viral. Some commented on her Instagram with words of support.
“We need to see diversity of different skins and conditions in ads,” one user wrote. “It reflects our reality.”
Another added: “I don’t have acne. I never suffered this... but I’m SO appalled at their treatment of you I am boycotting forthwith.”
Both the casting agency and L’Oréal reached out to apologize, Khan told Cosmopolitan.
The company released a written apology to multiple outlets, including the Independent, saying that people with skin issues were mistakenly cast for the campaign.
“This resulted in the wrong profile being cast, which was then poorly and insensitively communicated to the individuals concerned,” the statement from L’Oréal said. “We do not have regulations in place that restrict us from working with people with skin conditions.”
Khan wants to turn the negative experience into something positive, writing on Instagram that the message has “given me fuel.”
“Fuel to continue to show you that your beautiful no matter what ANYONE says,” she wrote. “That even if it’s someone so huge & big. It still means NOTHING. Never stop loving yourself for who you are & NEVER change.”