Last week, French company Yves Rocher was embroiled in a scandal which led some to suggest that the firm has been pushing racist narratives and pseudo-science associated with Nazism.

Images of a flyer, including a chart and facial structure measurements for “Russian anthropometry,” recently began circulating online. According to the accompanying text, appearing to be from Yves Rocher and which can still be found on a cached version of the Moscow Institute of Plastic Surgery and Cosmotology's website, said that, from March 1, a ‘Russian Beauty’ campaign will be launched in all its Russian stores.

The text read:

“Tens of thousands of our customers can not only find the necessary cosmetics and skin care products but can also make sure that their metric data corresponds to the ideals of Russian beauty. For this purpose, tables and templates with anthropometric ideals corresponding to the pure phenotype of Russian woman will be placed in all sales outlets. And our specialists will suggest free of charge how, and by what cosmetic means and techniques, ladies will be able to emphasize the native Russian features of appearance and, if necessary, to smooth out the personal peculiarities, which do not correspond to the Russian anthropometry."

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The text touts that this new project, by Yves Rocher, was “the result of great and painstaking work.” It added that experts of the corporation “collected and generalized thousands of historical and contemporary data about the appearance of famous Russian beauties, whose outstanding appearance was undisputed and whose Russian origin was confirmed by documents. Such an approach made it possible to draw a clear parallel between the ethnic peculiarities of Russian women's beauty and the best use of cosmetic products.”

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Likely referring to the current illegal invasion of Ukraine, the statement said that today, "when patriotic feelings in Russia are stronger than ever, Yves Rocher celebrates the unique and exceptional nature of pure Russian beauty. The best genes from generation to generation have created a unique image of Russian beauty. And our duty is to preserve and multiply it.”

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Russia is a racially diverse country which has been historically mixed with Asiatic populations in the region. It was therefore ironically noted that the "Russian phenotype is a reflection of the purity of Russian culture, a special and striking example for those who have long lost their primordiality and exclusivity, wastefully mixing their genes with the genes of other peoples.”

The statement concluded that Russian “mothers, wives, daughters – those who have always been the guardians of the family hearth in Rus, while men increase the glory of their native land – is the basis of a special Russian civilization. Civilization of greatness, strength and unique beauty.”

Yves Rocher’s Kyiv office, on March 10, released a statement on Facebook contradicting the cached Institute's website, saying that the photos were fake and that the allegations were "false," "disinformation," and in contradiction to the values of the brand.

 The statement concluded that “Rocher strongly condemned the disinformation campaign we have become the subject of and continues to work daily to uphold the natural beauty of every woman.”

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One social media commentator said that “The advertising text is pure racism,” noting that “it has been removed [although] there is a Google cache and screenshots.”

Yves Rocher is one of the most prominent Western firms to have declined to boycott Russia and shut its doors in the country following the invasion of Ukraine.

The Paris, Moscow, and Kyiv offices of Yves Rocher, along with the Moscow Institute of Plastic Surgery and Cosmetology, were contacted for comment, however none had responded by the time of this publication.

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