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"Don't mess with children" - Panda eyes makeup meaning explored as Balenciaga is ripped apart over child ad

Balenciaga addresses controversial bondage teddy bears campaign (Image via DatCatDer/Twitter)
Balenciaga addresses controversial bond*ge teddy bears campaign (Image via DatCatDer/Twitter)

Balenciaga has apologized for their recent controversial ad campaign. The company took to social media to address the advertisement that featured young children holding teddy bears while dressed in bond*ge gear.

Although the luxury house has removed the online campaign, netizens remain enraged.

Balenciaga is very much cancelled in my eyes, I don’t care what explanation they come up with. don’t mess with children

On Tuesday, November 22, Balenciaga took to their Instagram stories to apologize for the seemingly inappropriate advertisement. The campaign also showcased images of the Supreme Court’s opinion on a child p*rnography case, which unsurprisingly left netizens alarmed.

The brand’s apology read:

“We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign. We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”

They further added:

“We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused...We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”

Why are netizens raising concerns over the 'panda eyes' in the Balenciaga campaign?

Many social media users noticed that one of the images featured in the campaign included a plush teddy bear dressed in bond*ge gear, a fishnet top, a studded leather harness and collars with locks, and sporting what appeared to be panda-eye makeup.

For the unversed, 'panda eyes' is a common p*dophile slang term used for child s*domy. As per Urban Dictionary, children can sustain black circles around their eyes due to the trauma caused after an inappropriate act. That, supposedly, looks similar to the eyes of a panda.

Can someone give me a good explanation as to why the Balenciaga website is running this campaign? Of course it's loaded with symbolism starting with the B&W, the small child and the panda eyed BDSM bear. Why is this still happening? And for the papers on the desk, you decide. https://t.co/AYAE3ux8tD

It is important to note that the definition was removed from Urban Dictionary at the time of writing the article, given its inaccuracy and inappropriateness. However, people have already started using the term and often speak of it when it comes to matters related to child p*rnography.

Following Balenciaga’s now-infamous campaign, netizens flooded the internet to slam the fashion house for making use of panda eyes on the disturbing teddy bears. Many also criticized the brand for releasing the campaign without thinking twice about the message the photoshoot was conveying.

A few tweets read:

kanye can say anti-semitic stuff and be held accountable but balenciaga can literally promote cp and no one bats an eye.
if balenciaga took this matter so seriously they never would’ve published that campaign or come up with the concept in the first place https://t.co/2lb3ygE0XL
I cannot believe Balenciaga just- who signed off???? Who’s idea was it even because they need to be in jail. This is concerning. Horrifying.
Balenciaga isn’t apologizing for what they did. Balenciaga is apologizing because they got caught. Don’t confuse the two.
Balenciaga 🗑🗑🗑
@voguepearls “we are taking legal actuon against the parties responsible” so… themselves? did the creative director in charge of the shoot not work for balenciaga? the campaign was approved by random people not associated with the company at all?? like make it make sense

Everything to know about the teddy bear photoshoot

The controversial photoshoot was part of Balenciaga’s Toy Series campaign that featured child models posing with the brand’s teddy bear handbags. National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti was in control of the photoshoot.

Balenciaga’s campaign was a continuation of the photographer’s Toy Stories series.

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Speaking about the campaign, the fashion house stated that several of the brand's products are staged around child models, who are dressed in the Balenciaga Kids line. It added:

“The campaign iterates on the artist’s series Toy Stories, an exploration of what people collect and receive as gifts.”

The photographer began the Toy Stories series by capturing children around the world and their favorite toys.

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Edited by Abhipsa Choudhury
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