Abercrombie & Fitch has fired its new gay plus-size model after racist comments about Black Lives Matter “extremists” were uncovered on his social media.
Last month Michael McCauley was recruited for the fashion retailer’s ‘Face Your Fierce’ fragrance campaign, which celebrates “body positivity, self-empowerment, determination, LGBT+ equality, gender equality, overcoming obstacles, and more”.
McCauley, who calls himself “America’s Favourite Teddy Bear Model”, was interviewed by Queerty about his role in the campaign. Shortly after the feature was published, a number of racist social media posts written by McCauley began recirculating online.
In one of the posts, McCauley blasted members of Black Lives Matter, calling them “a group of extremists”.
In another, he bemoaned the activist group for blocking the streets and making him late for a “crucial” meeting. “Thank you for making your point – I’m glad your life matters more than mine,” he said.
And in a video posted to Facebook, he took aim at the actress Jada Pinkett Smith for her stance on #OscarsSoWhite, and then complained that the Grammys don’t nominate enough white artists.
“Jada Pinkett Smith, so, uh, since you’re going to be boycotting the Oscars, I’ve decided I’m going to boycott the Grammys because not enough white people are nominated,” he said.
It wasn’t long before Abercrombie & Fitch ditched McCauley from their campaign, obviously keen to distance the brand from his controversial comments.
After several days of silence McCauley eventually addressed the matter on Twitter, explaining that he didn’t mean to be offensive.
“I want to address the comments that were recently brought to light from several years ago,” he wrote. “They were not intended to be hurtful. I realise how insensitive they are and I’m sorry for the harm they’ve cause. Thank you.”
When his apology was further criticised for being “half-assed” and “boilerplate,” McCauley responded with a six-minute long video on his Instagram.
He told viewers he was “really, really sorry about all the comments that have come out recently from my past on Facebook. And I just want you guys to know, I don’t agree with any of that stuff that I said”.
After educating himself on the Black Lives Matter movement, he said he now understands “just how wrong and privileged those comments are, and why they’re racist, why they’re not a joke. And I don’t in any way stand for things like that”.