Lancome's "First Muslim Face" - But Should That Be The Story?

20/01/2012 16:44 | Updated 22 May 2015
Lancome announces 'first Muslim face' - but should that be the story?Photo: Getty

Okay, so we were in two minds about covering this but we decided we would, if only to raise a few points.

Tunisian model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem has been announced as the new face and ambassadrice of Lancome for 2012. Normally we would be all over that because y'know, new ambassador, new campaigns, new gorgeous pictures. But this time certain factions of the media are not choosing to report 'Lancome reveals face of 2012', and are instead focusing on the angle 'Lancome signs first ever Muslim face for campaign'.

So a few things:

1. Hanaa's own website has a post announcing that she had signed with Lancome on 11 July, 2011 - a full six months ago.

2. An interview with W magazine dated 12 July has her talking about losing her mobile phone en route to a Lancome job.

3. She starred in the Lancome Visionnaire ad campaign which ran from September 2011 and that product was the focus of intense media scrutiny after being linked with Kate and Pippa Middleton.

We'll stop there because it's enough to show you that she's clearly been working for Lancome - and on some high profile products - for some time without her religion being an issue, so why is that the story now? Is it because that's her unique selling point even though it wasn't before?

We appreciate that the fashion and beauty industries have a history of promoting a rather homogenised beauty ideal and that every time they step outside the white, skinny box is a good thing but given the fact that Hanaa has been working with Lancome for so long, covering the story in this manner implies that her religious beliefs are somehow now a bigger deal than before.

What do you think? Is Hanaa's religion headline worthy or should the story be focusing on her modeling work?

You can see Hanaa's work for Lancome's Roseraie des Delices campaign below:


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