"They want me to be silent": Huda Kattan stands her ground for Palestine as threats to her billion dollar beauty company escalate
The beauty mogul’s outspoken Palestinian activism online has put her livelihood at risk, but she simply doesn’t care.
Huda Beauty founder Huda Kattan has been a vocal supporter of the ‘Free Palestine’ movement for many years. She publicly condemned the Israeli government and military forces back in 2021, when airstrikes rained onto the besieged Gaza strip and Palestinians were forcibly evicted from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
Since the conflicts escalated again on October seventh of this year, over 18,700 Palestinians have died and more than 50,000 injured, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports.
In a four minute video uploaded to her personal Instagram and TikTok on Sunday, Kattan spoke of the intimidation that she and her business had received due to her Pro-Palestine stance: “I am getting a lot of threats on my business and I don’t know which way it is going to go.”
Despite this, she stood strong in her morally-charged views; “People are being dehumanised, obliterated, ethnically cleansed.. I will not be intimidated for speaking on behalf of humanity.”
Kattan stressed in the video that she was willing to risk her beauty business and reputation in seeking the truth and justice for Palestinians in Gaza. But, she assured that any accusations of anti-semitism on her part were inherently false, she was “not anti any people” and “stood against that.”
With an estimated brand value of over a billion dollars, Huda Beauty has everything to lose. Kattan however, holds a different outlook: “We cannot be afraid to lose anything, we have to trust the process. If we lose something, something else will come to us the right way. We are doing good work. I believe that wholeheartedly.”
Kattan is aware of the damage her opinions could have on her brand, however, she has decided to remain outspoken on the attacks on Gaza: “I am scared but I’m more afraid to not speak my truth and become a coward, a tool of the disgusting system that allows oppression.”
Following an influx of support on social media for the Palestinian cause, Huda notes that “There is a revolution that has started, people are educating each other and nothing will undo this.” In a direct response to online criticism, she made a bold claim that “Anyone that tries to silence people, is pro-genocide and pro killing of innocent people.”
Currently at 2.5 million views, the video’s comment section was overflowing with emotional words of support for the blogger.
One read: “Utmost respect for you.”
“So impressed! When others in your position are comfortably ignoring this right now. Your tenacity is brilliant!”, another user said.
A third follower wrote “Give this woman a seat in the UN as she’s the only one with any sense.”
This comes after the UN General Assembly failed to implement a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on numerous occasions since the conflict began on October seventh.
In an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the 193-member world body surpassed a majority vote in favour for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and release of all hostages. Although non-binding, the resolution demonstrates current global opinion on the ongoing crisis, triggered by the total collapse of living conditions in the Gaza strip. Israel and the United States were among the few who remained against the call for a ceasefire.
Since the war broke out in Gaza over two months ago, Huda has consistently expressed her views on the Palestinian cause. The Iraqi-American blogger posted to Instagram on October eighth in celebration of her 40th birthday to her 3.8 million followers.
An Israeli user wrote underneath the picture: “I don’t know if you noticed, but Israelis from all over the world love you and your product. With most of their money, you chose Gaza. So remember this as soon as no Israeli buys from you again, anywhere in the world. And it’s a shame because we buy a lot.”
She responded to the comment bluntly, “I don’t want blood money.” This spurred quite the controversy amongst her followers and wider public image.
Some, in support of Kattan’s statement: “Nothing but Huda products for me now! Many celebs sell out for fear of losing endorsements. Glad you are not one of them!”, one person wrote. Others, calling for a boycott of Huda Beauty. A change.org petition demanding Sephora to remove the brand from its stores is now at 26,000 signatures. In the year where Forbes ranked her 30th in 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen of the Year, with $200 million annual sales, critics say Kattan is putting her beauty empire in jeopardy.
A 2019 study found that negative news has a three times larger impact on reputation over positive news. Despite the potential risk to sales and industry regard, Kattan seems undeterred from the boycott threats.
In an Instagram statement released last month, Huda, and sister brands Kayali and WISHFUL, pledged to donate $1 million split between two organisations offering humanitarian aid in Gaza - Human Appeal and Doctors Without Borders. “One has on-ground personnel providing essential medical care to victims, while the other is dedicated to providing clean and safe water,” the post read.
She has since continued her daily coverage for Palestine across all of her social media platforms.
In such a financially-driven beauty market, Kattan has decided to prioritise humanity over business. Not just talk, but action.
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