Belgium teen loses modeling contract amid hunting photo backlash

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As American teen Kendall Jones faces backlash for posting big-game hunting pictures online, another teen in Belgium has lost a major modeling contract after sharing a similar photo.

Seventeen-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere, who was spotted in the crowd during a World Cup game and quickly landed a modeling contract with cosmetic giant L'Oreal, received criticism for a photo posted July 1 on her personal Facebook page, showing her next to an antelope she had taken down during a big-game hunting trip in Africa.

The photo was posted with the caption, “Hunting is not a matter of life or death. It’s much more important…this was about 1 year ago…ready to hunt americans today haha.”

According to Buzzfeed, the post was made the day Belgium defeated the U.S. in the World Cup.

One Twitter user quickly brought the photo to the attention of the beauty company, tweeting a screenshot to L'Oreal: “What do you think of this post by your new model Axelle Despiegelaere?”

Miss Despiegelaere, who announced her signing with the company on Facebook, took to social media to apologize, saying, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone… it was a joke. Thanks for understanding.”

A L'Oreal spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the company is no longer working with Miss Despiegelaere, explaining that it was only a short-term arrangement during the World Cup:

“Axelle de Spiegelaere is not one of L'Oreal Professionnel’s spokespeople. L'Oreal Professionnel Belgium collaborated with her on an ad hoc basis to produce a video for social media use in Belgium. This has now been produced.”

The cosmetic company has been a longtime advocate for animal rights. In 2012, L'Oreal donated $1.2 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help improve safe chemical testing on animals.

The company produced the video in French to advertise during the World Cup on social media, touting Miss Despiegelaere as “the most beautiful of the fans.”

The video showed Miss Despiegelaere receiving a makeover courtesy of the L'Oreal studios.

Shortly after the video was released, Miss Despiegelaere created a new Facebook page for fans that promptly garnered thousands of likes.

By Thursday, Miss Despiegelaere’s personal Facebook page had been deactivated although the fan page was still functioning.

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About the Author
Kellan Howell

Kellan Howell

Kellan Howell, an investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covers campaign finance and government accountability. Originally from Williamsburg, Va., Kellan graduated from James Madison University where she received bachelor’s degrees in media arts and design and international affairs with a concentration in western European politics.

During her time at JMU, she interned for British technology and business news website “ITPro” ...

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