Actress Busy Philipps slammed Italian casual-wear brand Benetton for “sexualizing” children, and the company has since removed the offending posts.
Philipps took to her Instagram stories on the morning of Christmas Eve to express her outrage at the Instagram photos that showed children posing in underwear while “looking like adults.”
The photos showed two child models which Philipps believed to be near the ages of her own kids, Birdie, 14, and Cricket, nine.
The younger child posed in a cotton bra and underwear set with a zip-up hoodie draped down her arms, while the older girl wore a robe and teddy bear T-shirt that was partly tucked into her underwear.
Philipps, best-known for her television roles in series such as Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town, told her followers it was so “f***** up” and that she never normally comments on “businesses’ Instagrams.”
“I just saw this f****** Benetton ad. Holy s***, what is wrong with everybody? Having these is very stupid, it’s sexualizing little kids. What is happening?” she stated.
“For the record, I don’t think like all pictures of kids, wearing bathing suits, or even underwear would be sexualizing.”
Philipps then cited other campaigns done by brands such as Gap, which she describes as “appropriate and cute.”
“I don’t know where the disconnect is with people and they’re like, ‘well, if you see that [sexualization], then that’s your problem’. You’re having children pose like adults whilst wearing underwear? Maybe I’m just hyper aware of that now. Obviously, my kids are the same age and it freaks me out.”
The actress recalled the recent Balenciaga scandal, saying Benetton should have known better.
American journalist Yashar Ali also posted about the ad campaign to his Instagram stories where he had added Philipps’ comment on Benetton’s post. He also included the original photo.
“What the hell is wrong with these brands??? This is insane!” he captioned the post.
Philipps later told fans she would not re-post the photo but was adamant if they saw it, they would understand that she was not “overreacting.”
After Philipps and Ali’s comments, Benetton removed the posts and disabled comments on its other Instagram posts.
Newsweek has contacted Benetton for comment.
Philipps’ outrage comes just weeks after Spanish designer brand Balenciaga came under scrutiny for two fashion campaigns where it was accused of sexualizing children.
One campaign for its Balenciaga Objects range featured children posing with teddy bears dressed in bondage gear.
The other office-inspired ad for its campaign with Adidas included a reference to a Supreme Court case on child pornography.
Another photo shoot for its Adidas collaboration saw a bag resting on some papers, including an excerpt from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that upheld federal laws criminalizing the distribution, selling, or advertising of child pornography.
The Supreme Court had been tasked with deciding whether laws banning “pandering”—i.e. promoting—child pornography were a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Balenciaga issued a series of apologies for the campaigns saying they “reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”
“We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative,” the company wrote.
“The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labeled BDSM-inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone.”
Of the papers featured in the Adidas campaign, Balenciaga said they “were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents.”
However, they “turned out to be [real] papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”
“The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint,” the statement read.
“We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background and we could have done things differently.”
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