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Fashion brand Benetton under fire for ‘sexualising’ children in new ad

People have taken to social media to express outrage over a recent ad campaign by Italian fashion company Benetton Group that featured child models in underwear.

Benetton deleted the advertisements this week after it was called out by American actress Busy Philipps for “sexualising” children, but images from the campaign continue to circulate on social media sites. 

Some users have refrained from sharing images that feature two young girls in underwear in questionable poses, in order to not contribute to their further distribution. 

Others censored the images to protect the children while showing just how serious the offence is:

While the use of children in brand campaigns is not uncommon, Benetton’s photos had the children posing in underwear “like adults”, Philipps said on her Instagram stories on Christmas Eve morning.

“What is wrong with everybody? Having these is very stupid, it’s sexualising little kids. What is happening?”, she said.

Philipps compared Benetton’s approach to brands like Gap who have carried out “appropriate and cute” campaigns for children’s clothing.

American journalist Yashar Ali also called out the brand on Twitter, saying, “Absolutely gross stuff from Benetton.”

“There’s a way to sell clothes like this without resorting to sexualization.”

The hashtag #boycottbenetton has begun picking up steam as users demand the brand be cancelled and its managers fired.

Many users have also expressed concern over the expression on the children’s faces, saying they look uncomfortable and unhappy, while others have criticised their parents for allowing the photos to be taken.

Some users also shared images of previous Benetton campaigns showing a history of problematic content featuring children.

The controversy comes just a few weeks after Balenciaga faced similar outrage for having children pose with teddy bears dressed in bondage gear.

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