Lush vs activist: a serious debate about feminism born out of a Twitter craze

Feminist blogger Bella Rapoport has caused quite a stir in the Russian blogosphere after asking the cosmetics company to give her free products in return for reviews on Instagram.

“Hi! I’m a bloggeress,” Rapoport wrote on March 20. “I’d like to be given some cosmetics to review on my Instagram Stories.” Unfortunately for Rapoport, the people at Lush politely refused her proposal. Taken aback, she posted on her Instagram that she feels hard done by because big brands refuse to give her free stuff to review.

“It’s funny how brands support feminism, but only if it has thousands of subscribers,” Rapoport exclaimed to her 6,000 Instagram subscribers. “I’ve done a ****load and more for feminism!”

But if the blogger was expecting an outpouring of sympathy from the online community, she was in for a shock. People wasted no time in calling her out as a chancer and many parodied her offer to Lush by trying to score free stuff themselves. Here are some of the funniest attempts:

Hi Sberbank [Russia’s biggest bank]! I’m a blogger. I’d like to be given some money to review on [Instagram] Stories

Hi! I’m an alcoholic. I’d like to get some free booze to review on Stories (writing to a liquor store’s Instagram account.)

Hi! I’m a cat. I’d like to receive an endless supply of cat food and bread crumbs, and forever be allowed to walk on tables so I can post a review on Stories

Hi Apple! I’d like to receive a MacBook Pro, an iPhone XR 512 GB, an Apple Watch Series 4, some AirPods, and not review them anywhere! 

Hi! I’m a blogger. I’d like to receive your nudes via DM and show them on Twitter

Hi! We’re Slavs. We’d like to get our hands on some Varangians and review them in our ancient chronicles

Meanwhile, after just two days the Twitter craze has morphed into a serious debate about feminism. Lush says its answer to Rapoport was nothing out of the ordinary. “A lot of people write to us. As a rule, people provide more information about themselves. Here, we had a very short request and replied with a standard answer. I don’t think we did anything wrong,” Varvara Afanasyeva, Lush Russia’s brand manager, commented.

And while the noise coming from the online community tends to agree with Lush’s stance, some big names have shown support for Rapoport, who has allegedly received hate mail and threats. TV stars Xenia Sobchak and Tina Kandelaki have gone as far to demand that Lush’s social media manager be fired. In response, Dmitriy Azarov, Lush Russia’s CEO, said: “Our manager who replied to Rapoport’s request is Tatyana Bochkareva. She’s been working in Lush for 10 years and will continue to work here.”

Lush is standing its ground. “It doesn’t matter if we cooperate with this person or not, we’re definitely taking her side because Lush stands for peace, love, and tolerance. We can have different points of view and respect each other at the same time,” a company statement reads. “Lush is very sorry for Bella because of the bullying she’s experienced. We are contemplating giving away some free cosmetics to Bella, but we’re yet to decide,” Lush added.

“Bella Rapoport skillfully substitutes real acute problems of Russian feminism – such as domestic violence, unequal wages, etc. – with shameful begging,” the Russian “Stalingulag” Telegram channel wrote. “And when she is politely refused, she pretends to be the victim of the patriarchate and capitalism.”

What do you think? Does refusing to give away free stuff to feminists undermine their cause? Let us know in the comments.

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