by Kristina Murkett
Wednesday, 23
November 2022
Reaction
18:00

Balenciaga is sexualising children

The label has apologised for photographing young girls in BDSM outfits
by Kristina Murkett
Credit: Balenciaga

Sometimes the hardest thing about discerning what is real or fake on the internet is that the truth can be so absurd and unbelievable. For example, if you came across this advertisement on Twitter, featuring a young child holding a teddy bear in bondage gear, you would be forgiven for assuming you were being trolled. Yet this is a real campaign by Balenciaga, the high-end fashion line with over 11 million followers on Instagram.

The more you look, the worse it gets. This picture features a young girl holding a toy wearing fishnets, restraints and a padlock, with bruised purple and blue eyes (Balenciaga have been called out before for glamourising domestic violence, after they painted black eyes and a bloody nose on a model). This picture focuses on a girl lying down on a sofa surrounded by empty wine glasses, while this photo includes tape with the letters BAAL: a pagan God who demanded child sacrifice. This picture shows documents from the court case Ashcroft v Free Speech Coalition, a controversial ruling that struck down a portion of the Child Pornography Protection Act after it deemed that online child pornography is protected free speech.


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Stranger still is the muted response on social media. Where are the boycotts? Why did Instagram let the campaign run? Kim Kardashian, one of the brand’s ambassadors, has been noticeably silent, which is ironic given her quickness to condemn anti-Semitism after her ex-husband Kanye West was dropped by Balenciaga last month. Balenciaga issued an ‘apology’ on their Instagram stories (which conveniently delete themselves after 24 hours) but the company has since deactivated its Instagram altogether. The brand already left Twitter after Musk’s takeover, and since they didn’t elaborate on their reasons for doing so, many have re-evaluated this decision in light of Musk’s promise to crack down on content that involves child sexual exploitation.

Balenciaga’s ‘apology’ may try to lay the blame with the set designers, but the reality is that the campaign will have been viewed by dozens if not hundreds of employees, and would never have been signed off without consent from high levels. There are plenty of photos and campaigns still running with disturbing set choices — for example, several photographs include a copy of Michael Borreman’s book Fire From The Sun, a collection of portraits of naked toddlers with “sinister overtones and insinuations of violence.”

Perhaps it is all part of a sinister PR strategy — controversy drives coverage, which drives consumption. Perhaps this is just another example of a fashion house shock tactics: after all, who can forget Bennetton’s long history of using graphic images, such as a newborn baby complete with an umbilical cord, or the Pope kissing an Egyptian imam? 

Yet this may also be a part of a wider social trend in which sexual violence is glorified, fetishes are normalised, where #KinkTok has over 12 billion views, and brands can continue to push boundaries without real consequences. Kanye West claims to have lost $2billion in a day for his anti-Semitic comments, while basketball star Kyrie Irving was suspended for 8 games for his links to a film with anti-Semitic material. How much will Balenciaga pay for their latest shoot?

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John Aronsson
John Aronsson
16 days ago

We’re getting into Sodom and Gomorrah territory; aren’t we?

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
16 days ago
Reply to  John Aronsson

It’s just right there on the horizon.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
15 days ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Let the thunderbolts commence…

Vivian Burman
Vivian Burman
15 days ago
Reply to  John Aronsson

I think we’re well past that I’m afraid.

Su Mac
Su Mac
16 days ago

Credit to Tucker Carlson for raising this revolting spectacle and the complete lack of concern by Insta several days ago. However…if you were to Insta about election fraud or Ivermectin that is a WHOLE different story. How the hell did we get here.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
15 days ago

I was just out to dinner with a bunch of progressives who were tut tutting about all those crazy Anon people who believe in child pedophile rings. Well – stuff like this – and drag queen story hour for toddlers – don’t exactly help calm the conspiracy waters.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
15 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Sometimes I do wonder if the perverts of PIE, which back in the seventies followed a similar but more transparent strategy of normalising sex with children as a ‘natural’ progression of seventies hippy free love ethics, have developed a new more clandestine strategy of infiltration through Stonewall, with it becoming an exclusively trans supporting organisation promoting child abuse across society in the name of trans rights.
Is that a ridiculous conspiracy theory?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
15 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Perhaps not. I have often thought the way the term ‘gender’ is bandied about is nothing but a Trojan horse for perverts to access children’s bodies. The US has a huge problem with this in K-12 education where the media portrays teachers peddling gender ideology as a good thing.

Anna Maxwell
Anna Maxwell
15 days ago

A btl comment in The Times points out that white rabbits and black eyes (note the sunglasses scattered around) are coded references to child pornography. I hope Balanciaga’s brand collapses permanently- did they honestly think that paedophilia is ripe for reinvention as an acceptable lifestyle choice?

Brett H
Brett H
15 days ago
Reply to  Anna Maxwell

“coded references to child pornography. “
Is this the same as satanic messages on records played backwards.

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
15 days ago

Balenciaga were only a name to me until today. On reading about their strange creepy campaign I looked at their advertising – £250 for a simple women’s “panty”; £150 for men’s briefs which would cost about a fiver at M&S. Who is daft enough to buy this stuff?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
14 days ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

The filthy rich. The ones who need to constantly push the envelope to achieve more “satisfaction”. I cringe to consider what’s next in their depraved minds.

Brett H
Brett H
15 days ago

I suspect they weren’t really focusing on, or promoting, pedophilia so much as attempting to be radical in their approach. What it does suggest more than anything is how so out of touch these people are that they couldn’t imagine the backlash. This would have been approved by a number of people and no one said “wait a minute”. I’ve seen so many samples of these misjudgment in branding that it just confirms for me that these so called professional are incredibly immature as well as having become disconnected from social norms. They probably believe that social norms are a construct. Now they know different.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
16 days ago

May we all get exactly what we deserve.

Lana Hunneyball
Lana Hunneyball
15 days ago

Regarding the perpetrators of this ‘campaign’, there are only two options: they’re either extremely stupid or just plain psychotic. Completely numb and immune to the consequences of their actions. We have to stop p***y-footing. Call it what it is. There’s a similar problem on Facebook – hordes of pages and groups openly sporting suggestive pics of kids and teens. I tried saying something and was told (as if I’m the daft one) that I can simply unfollow content I don’t want to see. But heaven forbid I post about the V word (no – the other one) or say something that challenges that party line. It’ll be axed in a second.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
14 days ago

This is what one expects at the high end. Ask Epstein.

Brett H
Brett H
14 days ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

What are you trying to say?

Brett H
Brett H
15 days ago

Where did Balenciaga dress children in BDSM outfits?

Last edited 15 days ago by Brett H
Brett H
Brett H
15 days ago

“a collection of portraits of naked toddlers with “sinister overtones and insinuations of violence.”
Yes, but not in the way the writer is suggesting. This story is a bit of a beat-up. Some people see BDSM in the way the toy is dressed, others see punk.

Last edited 15 days ago by Brett H