Emily Bador, from Brighton, describes herself as “half-English and half-Malaysian” and stars on the cover of the December/January 2017 issue of Blackhair magazine sporting a faux-afro hairstyle.
Bador took to Instagram to point out the magazine’s mistake, stating that she did not approve of the image being used, and to apologise for the photo itself - which was taken when she was around 15-years-old.
“I would deeply and sincerely like to apologise to everyone for this, and black women especially,” Bador wrote.
“I would like to clarify, I believe this shoot is from when I was around 15 and didn’t understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC. I was uneducated, which obviously is no excuse, ignorant and immature.
“I didn’t understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on, which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women.
“I didn’t understand that as a white passing woman I’d be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I’d be persecuted. I didn’t understand cultural appropriation.
“I do regret doing this. I hold up my hands, I’m so so so sorry and I’m very sorry this cover was taken away from a black woman.
“This image is (I think, although I’m not 100% sure) about three to four years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine. If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it.
“I’m upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Blackhair.”
Blackhair magazine also responded to the controversy, thanking Bador for bringing the mistake to its attention.
In an official statement on Instagram, the publication said it was not aware of Bador’s heritage prior to selecting her image.
“We often ask PR companies/salons to submit images for the magazine, specifically stating that models must be black or mixed race. We can only take their word for it, and of course, try to use our own judgment,” they said.
“At Blackhair we continuously strive to celebrate black women in all our beautiful variation of skin hues and hair textures. We are only too aware of how black women are underrepresented in the mainstream media and the last thing we want to do is add to our erasure.
“In this ever-changing world, race will surely become even more fluid and no doubt conversations around black identity will continue to change, and we definitely welcome the dialogue.”