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"Is that stuffed toy in bondage gear?": Balenciaga children ad leaves internet stunned

Netizens raise concern over Balenciaga
Netizens raise concern over Balenciaga's recent ad campaign (Image via DatCatDer/Twitter)

Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga is raising concern for children’s safety following the release of their latest ad campaign. In the images showcased on the brand’s official website, children can be seen carrying what seem like bondage-themed toys. Netizens found the theme “creepy” and “disturbing.”

One person even took to Twitter to ask, "Is that stuffed toy in bondage gear?"

@shoe0nhead Is that stuffed toy in bondage gear? 🤨

On November 20, Twitter user @DatCatDer took to their official account to publicize Balenciaga’s latest advertisement. The tweet read:

“Balenciaga using photos of little girls playing with teddy bears dressed in bondage gear on their website. Lovely.”
Balenciaga using photos of little girls playing with teddy bears dressed in bondage gear on their website. Lovely. https://t.co/mYnt0CJuif

Along with the tweet, the user also attached images of Balenciaga's website. In one image, a child can be seen standing on a pink bed and holding a teddy bear that's wearing a fishnet top, a collar with a lock, and ankle and wrist restraints. The toy can also be seen wearing a blindfold.

In another image taken from the brand’s gift shop catalog, a different child model can be seen standing on a couch and holding a study bear that is wearing a leather chest harness and collar.

As the tweet amassed traction online, fellow platform user @shoe0nhead shared that the photoshoot included poorly hidden court documents about “virtual child p*rn.” The netizen wrote “normal stuff” as they sarcastically commented on the matter at hand.

Netizens called out Balenciaga for their new ad (Image via Twitter @shoe0nhead)
Netizens called out Balenciaga for their new ad (Image via Twitter @shoe0nhead)

Netizens fire at Balenciaga’s photoshoot

Internet users were appalled after becoming aware of the ad campaign. Many expressed concern as the brand seemed to be promoting child p*rnography. Netizens relentlessly slammed the Paris-headquartered fashion house and endlessly questioned the appropriateness of the ad campaign.

A few tweets read:

@DatCatDer Frightening how many adults must have been involved in this... parents, photographers, creative directors, copy writers, web designers, design agency staff, producers, managers, advertisers... and not one of them thought 'hang on a minute'?
@DatCatDer Well, if I could afford Balenciaga, I wouldn’t.
@DatCatDer These people are disgusting for this. Era of pandering to perversion. I keep saying that and I mean it. People are intentionally trying to blur the line between what is for children and what is adults- it’s nasty stuff.

Keep Prisons Single S*x USA, a women’s rights campaign group, also tweeted in response to the ad campaign. They said in a tweet:

“This destruction of innocence & normalization of fringe behaviors seems like an effort to make acceptable previously unimaginable scenarios (like men in women’s prisons & shelters / children having “gender identities” / adult-dancing in libraries). None of this is acceptable.”
This destruction of innocence & normalization of fringe behaviors seems like an effort to make acceptable previously unimaginable scenarios (like men in women's prisons & shelters / children having "gender identities" / adult-dancing in libraries). None of this is acceptable. twitter.com/DatCatDer/stat…
@DatCatDer @ChrisKairo Okay, that's really creepy.
@DatCatDer Despicable. Where do they get such ideas? What board of management sanction such projects?
@DatCatDer Creeping normalisation....
@elonmusk @EvaFoxU don’t let freak show celeb @KimKardashian @kanyewest @justinbieber @DUALIPA etc endorsed Balenciaga on this platform making ads like this exploiting children - the photographer @GabrieleGalimba should be boycotted and taken off Twitter and celebrities supporting this brand shamed https://t.co/E2iUhmuAxm

After garnering backlash, sources claimed that the brand’s Instagram page limited the ability for users to leave comments under the post. However, since then, the brand has deleted the campaign from its Instagram page and the page only features three other posts.

The brand also recently deleted their Twitter account in protest against Elon Musk’s platform takeover.


Everything to know about the bear photoshoot

The accessory (or bear) featured in the fashion house’s campaign is from their Spring 2023 collection. National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti spearheaded the campaign. The photoshoot is an extension of the photographer’s Toy Stories series. According to the brand's official website:

“Dozens of Balenciaga products are staged around children dressed in the Balenciaga Kids line. The campaign iterates on the artist’s series Toy Stories, an exploration of what people collect and receive as gifts."
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Galimberti, who reportedly takes portraits of “everyday eccentricities” as per the fashion house, has also continued to share his work from the Toy Series on his official Instagram page. It includes a series of pictures taken of children around the world alongside their favorite toys.

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Edited by Karishma Rao
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