An Australian YouTuber has been accused of cultural appropriation for wearing braids while promoting her new fitness gear.
Sarah Stevenson was excited to launch her activewear range with White Fox Boutique next month, but was quickly met with complaints from people about the way she was dressed in one of the promotional shots.
Sporting long, blue braided hair, the health and fitness influencer copped it from people who said, as a white woman, the hairstyle was an example of cultural appropriation.
One person commented on the Instagram video: "Might be 'just a hairstyle' to some, but to many of us black women it is what keeps us out of getting jobs, and what we are constantly discriminated against for."
Another added: "Take the criticism and acknowledge your mistakes. You have a huge platform and you can't seriously be this culturally unaware."
A third said: "I've always loved you and your channel and still watch every one of your videos, but I'm disappointed to see this use of cultural appropriation in your latest collaboration."
After reading through all the comments, Sarah admitted that it was a mistake to feature the braided hair and has issued a lengthy apology.
She explains that the new line was meant to exhibit 'confidence, strength, [and] embracing and loving our bodies'.
The social media influencer said: "I'm absolutely heartbroken some people and communities are feeling the exact opposite right now. I am so sorry and I want to make it right.
"In no way am I trying to make 'excuses' or justify my actions, I'm responding and providing answers to the questions I've been asked as to why we chose the double braids hairstyle for the campaign.
"In my first activewear campaign, I wore four braids. Our vision was to take inspiration from all of my previous campaigns, but elevate it. I created a mood board which was full of festival hairstyles including colour, length and braids.
"Upon posting the images, I have been made aware of the controversy surrounding this kind of hair style. As I wear my hair in braids regularly and have had blonde extensions braided before, we genuinely thought it was an elevated photoshoot choice to add the blue extensions in to match the collection colours.
"It genuinely breaks my heart that I could ever offend anyone, particularly surrounding a project that was based on feeling empowered, embracing our differences and feeling confident in our own skin."
She says she's been doing research on the topic to better understand its sensitivity with people of colour.
Sarah decided to pull the campaign due to the backlash and has gone back to the drawing board.Featured Image Credit: Sarah's Day/Instagram