Balenciaga Fashion House Apologizes After Being Accused Of Sexualizing Children

High-end clothing company Balenciaga is under fire for allegedly sexualizing kids in an advertisement featuring images of young models holding plush teddy bear purses adorned with bondage accessories.
In a social media post, Balenciaga expressed regret for its most recent advertising campaign and said it had removed the commercials from all its channels.

Balenciaga Apologises


"We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign," the company said in a statement.

"We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign," Balenciaga wrote, adding that it strongly condemns the "abuse of children in any form."

Balenciaga also said that it would file a lawsuit against the individuals in charge of the photo session, alleging that they allegedly used "unapproved products" for the campaign.

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Pictures Credit: Twitter

Critics also focused on a different image that was posted on the Balenciaga website to advertise the "Hourglass" handbag that the fashion house created in partnership with Adidas.

The image shows the purse on a desk next to a page from the Supreme Court decision U.S. v. Williams, which made it illegal to promote child pornography.

The portion of that court document that is visible in the image makes reference to another Supreme Court case, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, in which the court declared that virtual child pornography is protected speech and overturned a portion of the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) of 1996.

A third image featured a red-haired woman sitting at a desk with a view of New York City and a book by Michael Boerrman that contains pictures of children without clothing on.

The Photographer's Response

The photographer behind the controversial Balenciaga campaign, which portrayed young people holding teddy bears dressed in bondage attire, has responded to the controversy.

According to The Independent, National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti responded to the criticism in an Instagram post, saying he felt "compelled to make" it after receiving "hundreds of hate mails and messages" in response to the images he took for the Balenciaga campaign.

Galimberti then claimed in the post that despite photographing the advertisement, he was "not entitled" to select the goods or models used in the promotion, "nor the combination of the same."

"I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose [sic] the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same."

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Pictures Credit: Twitter

"As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer," he added.

He continued:

"I suspect that any person prone to pedophilia searches on the web and has unfortunately a too easy access to images completely different than mine, absolutely explicit in their awful content. Lynching like these are addressed against wrong targets, and distract from the real problem, and criminals."

Harsh Critics

The photographs were referred to as "exploitative propaganda" by Penny Nance, CEO of the conservative women's rights organization Concerned Women for America.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Nance stated: "This is not about them being provocative and getting attention. The entire campaign sexualizes children, period. It is child exploitation, period. And it feeds and normalizes a culture that is dark and depraved."

She added: "Balenciaga needs to answer for it".

Also, Kelsey Bolar from the Independent Women’s Forum agreed:

"Balenciaga has no business introducing ‘bondage,’ a perverse adult sexual practice, to young children. Worse, the fashion house is using these images to advertise its products, essentially profiting from the sexualization of children".

"The desire to sexualize innocent children is a disturbing trend that’s emerged in today’s culture, and this is a twisted, disturbing example", Bolar continued.

The Balenciaga case shows us that big companies - regardless of the field in which they operate - have a great responsibility regarding the messages they transmit to the public, especially to minors.