Culture

Balenciaga Facing Backlash For Advertising Kids With Teddy Bears In Bondage Gear

By Nicole Dominique
·  2 min read
balenciaga
Twitter/@shoe0nhead

Balenciaga has angered users online after their recent Gift Shop campaign featured children holding stuffed animals in bondage gear. In another photo by the brand, a document – presumably from the Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition case – is spotted under a purse.

Luxury brand Balenciaga is facing backlash for featuring kids holding stuffed animals dressed in – what looks to be – bondage gear. Many Twitter users have called out the company's recent campaign photos, with some even noticing a strange document tucked under a Balenciaga bag in one of them. Based on the text written on the paper, the document is presumed to be from the Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, a case that established virtual child pornography is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.  

The Court in Ashcroft concluded that the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA) violated free speech. The CPPA previously prevented the distribution and possession of pornography in virtual images and films where adults were depicted as minors. 

Others noticed one teddy bear being held by a child had “panda eyes,” a term that is known to describe the bruising of the skin around the eyes as a result of injury. “Balanciaga’s homepage. •child with a BDSM stuffed animal with PANDA EYES •WHITE RABBIT on the bed • that picture of the bag looks innocent right? — zoom in & it’s what appears to be court documents arguing about some type of s*xual misconduct and p*rnography… ???” writes @StormEllimac.

Just recently, Twitter banned the hashtag associated with child pornography on the platform, and the action has been credited to Elon Musk and his new team. Balenciaga left Twitter not too long after Musk's acquisition. “What is probably happening here is: 1) Twitter is being stricter about sexually explicit material involving children, so 2) Balenciaga got told they can’t post their fetish-bondage-teddy bear shit. Being very committed to the bit they 3) deleted their Twitter…” speculates @xy_Wizard.

Balenciaga was founded in 1918 in Spain by Cristóbal Balenciaga. The brand has some of the most famous women in Hollywood as ambassadors, including Kim Kardashian and Alexa Demie. Balenciaga has not yet addressed the recent reaction following their campaigns, and they have since removed the pictures of children from their Instagram. However, Balenciaga's Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia, still proudly boasts his work on his social media page.

Update 1/22/22: Balenciaga has issued an apology following the controversy.

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