Nike's ad featuring model with body hair has the internet split

Nike has once again become a topic of conversation, this time for featuring model Nigerian-American model Annahstasia Enuke with unshaven underarm hair. Nike uploaded an image of Enuke posing in a sports bra on its Nike Women Instagram page four days ago, with a caption "Big Mood". The comments section erupted with both several viewpoints from netizens around the world.

Some netizens were outraged at the global sports brand for explicitly showing a small amount of underarm hair, going as far as calling it "disgusting". Those hating on Nike for the ad also said body hair is "masculine" and is not a feminine aspect. While pro-body-hair attitudes are still evolving, there were many netizens whom lauded the brand for taking a bold stance on natural body hair.

But of course, there were many that ran to the brands defense saying: "Good on you Nike for celebrating all women!", "Love that Nike is showcasing women of all types, nationalities, body hair, no body hair. Good job." Meanwhile one netizen in particular mock those with criticism saying "Complaining about the hair is more like taking pain relief for someone else's headache ??"

One key comment from an individual summarised both the positive and negative pointers in the comments section. The netizen said if the model was a male, showing off armpit hair would have been "normal and viril" and not "filthy and disgusting" as how some have said about Enuke. The netizen added that such preconceived ideas should be banished as "keeping body hair doesn't make you less feminine or dirty, it's just nature and it should be as usual for others to see body hair on a women as it is usual to see body hair on a men".

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Big mood @annahstasia.

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Nike, known for its bold marketing tactics, has not responded to any of these comments. The sports brand was previously embroiled in a controversy over featuring Colin Kaepernick, that sparked social media backlash in the United States. He was featured in Nike's "Dream Crazy" ad as part of the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Since the announcement of Kaepernick as the face of the campaign, several consumers took to Twitter to share pictures and videos of them burning their Nike sports shoes and even cutting the Nike logo off their socks. Hashtags such as “JustBurnIt” and “BoycottNike” also surfaced on Twitter, with some netizens suggesting other suitable national icons for the Nike’s campaign, including Martin Luther King Jr.

Despite the backlash and hate the brand received, the “Apparel 50 2019” report by global brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance said Nike’s branding success was lifted by several of its marketing campaigns that made the front page. According to the report, Nike is worth US$32.4 billion, the highest apparel brand value in the world.

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#JustBurnIt: Nike’s latest campaign literally under fire as consumers burn products