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A Hong Kong-based beauty company has issued an apology after receiving backlash for creating a product “inspired” by Anne Frank.
To celebrate their first anniversary, Woke Up Like This Beauty (WULT) released a line of liquid blushers named after famous women throughout history, including artist Frida Kahlo, author Virginia Woolf, chemist Rosalind Franklin and philanthropist Melinda Gates.
The brand’s “Dream Like Anne” shade, named after the 15-year-old Holocaust victim, was described on WULT’s website as “the baby between baby purple and baby pink, this pastel tint is a dreamer with cheeks kissed by the soft petals of a dusty rose. The uniquely eye-catching colour blends into the skin with beauty and grace.”
Criticism erupted on social media after WULT was featured in Time Out Hong Kong. The magazine described the brand’s collection as “aim[ing] to promote Sexual Health Awareness Month by naming the products after inspiring, famous women in hopes to inspire WULT customers to live their dreams and break through gender barriers.”
“Naming a shade of blush after Anne Frank, who was a victim of genocide is revolting. Dead Jews are not a marketing opportunity,” tweeted author and Jewish identity educator Ben M. Freeman. “[Time Out Hong Kong], shame on you for not noticing and for promoting this disrespect.”
Social media users criticized Time Out Hong Kong for referring to Frank as a “Holocaust diarist” rather than a victim of the Nazi death camps.
“Anne Frank is not a ‘Holocaust diarist.’ She did not document her experience for anyone else’s consumption,” wrote actress Samantha Acampora. “She was not looking to capitalize on being hunted and murdered.”
Naming a shade of blush after Anne Frank, who was a victim of genocide is revolting.— Ben M. Freeman (@BenMFreeman) September 16, 2020
Dead Jews are not a marketing opportunity. @timeouthk, shame on you for not noticing and for promoting this disrespect. pic.twitter.com/bbPcjiLcc1
“OMG. I find the other names disturbing (Virginia Woolf the inspiration for a blusher? Virginia Woolf committed suicide) but naming cosmetics after Anne Frank is offensive,” another user tweeted.
Amidst the backlash, Time Out Hong Kong removed the article from their website. Time Out issued a formal apology for promoting WULT’s latest collection via The Algemeiner, a Jewish and Israeli-news outlet.
Jewish DNA chemist Rosalind Franklin, died of ovarian cancer 37yo. Had she be born in Europe she would have been murdered along with Anne Frank, Anne's sister Margot, and their mother. Shame on you @timeouthk @timeout remove this offensive PR blurb from your website immediately.— Ro§ie (@RosieVegGdn) September 16, 2020
“We are deeply sorry for the insensitivity caused by covering this product in our article…,” the statement read. “We are committed to empowering and uplifting people of all races, religions, sexual orientations and backgrounds, and this article did not meet the high standards of respect and sensitivity we expect from our coverage.”
In a separate statement, WULT addressed the controversy surrounding their products, seemingly inferring that their decision to name a product after Frank was misunderstood by the public.
“One of WULT’s Face Dab products 'Dream Like Anne' paid tribute to Anne Frank’s immortal inspiring quote: 'What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet,’” the statement read. “The miracle of her legacy, 'The Diary of a Young Girl,' is that even in the face of extreme hardship, isolation and ultimate tragedy, her seminal expression of hope for the future continues to inspire generations. “We are extremely sorry that paying tribute to her in this way appears to have caused offence and is considered disrespectful. Our intention was quite the reverse, to bring positive energy and shine a little light through unprecedented testing times during the global pandemic.”
Although the brand’s anniversary collection remains for sale, the “Dream Like Anne” blush has been removed from WULT’s website.