Multinational clothing company H&M came under fire for a recent children’s clothing campaign released by H&M Australia featuring two girls in uniforms, with the caption “Make those heads turn in H&M’s back to school fashion”.
Netizens soon took to social media to call out the fast fashion giant and questioned their intentions behind the post. Author Melinda Resit highlighted that “little schoolgirls generally don’t want to turn heads”.
She continued, “The little girls’ parents generally prefer heads don’t ‘turn’ when others see their daughters walking to school, on a bus or in class. Why would you want to fuel the idea that little girls should draw attention to their looks, bodies and ‘style’?”
Resit advised the company to have a word with their “marketing team and come up with something that doesn’t draw attention to pre-pubescent girls already struggling to thrive in a culture that values ‘lookism’ as an aspirational goal”.
Others addressed the “absolutely vile” campaign and told H&M to “let kids be kids”.
Another individual highlighted how “every girl has a story about this scenario” and “hated being ogled by gross old men”.
A parent took to X (formerly Twitter) to state that her 10-year-old daughter had been in the orbit of a porn-damaged 11-year-old boy, and urged H&M to take the “appalling” ad down.
Another parent claimed she would have to start making her own clothes as “everyone seems to be grooming kids”.
While no official statement was issued by H&M, the brand’s customer service account on X responded to several tweets announcing that the ad was removed. The customer service account stated it was “deeply sorry for the offence caused” and would look into how future campaigns are presented.
In a similar incident, the luxury brand Balenciaga was criticised for a 2022 campaign accused of sexualising children. The ad, which was for the brand’s upcoming holiday collection, featured children holding teddy bears in bondage gear.
Balenciaga later removed all the images and apologised for any “offence” the campaign may have caused. “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”