H&M pulls ad accused of sexualizing young girls

H&M has pulled an avertising campaing in Australia that some users said hypersexualised young girls. Fast fashion rival Zara also drew scrutiny for a controversial ad campaign last month

H&M said it was investigating the ad campaign. (photo: DW)
H&M said it was investigating the ad campaign. (photo: DW)


Fast fashion chain H&M pulled an advertising campaign in Australia after it prompted backlash from people who said the ad sexualized young girls.

News agencies AFP and Reuters both reported on Monday that the ad had been removed, citing a statement from the company.

The ad campaign features two very young girls in school uniform with the caption: "Make those heads turn in H&M's Back to School fashion."

People turned to social media to express their anger at the campaign, with one Australian blogger pointing out that most young girls do not want to draw "unwanted attention to their appearance."

H&M investigating ad campaign

"We have removed this ad," a company spokesperson told AFP. "We are deeply sorry for the offense this has caused and we are looking into how we present campaigns going forward."

H&M is based in Sweden and is generally considered one of the main names in fast fashion.

The debacle is the latest in a series of advertising blunders by big fashion companies.

Fashion labels under scrutiny

Fast fashion retailer Zara pulled an advertising campaign last month that featured mannequins with missing limbs and statues wrapped in white. In one of the photos of the campaign, a model was seen carrying a mannequin wrapped in white. In another, a mannequin had no arms.

Some users pointed out the campaign brought to mind the destruction in Gaza following Israel's military operations and called on people to boycott the company.

Zara said in a statement the advertising campaign had been thought of before the war in Gaza began on October 7, saying that it regretted the "misunderstanding" the campaign caused.

In 2022, luxury fashion brand Balenciaga pulled an ad campaign that showed children holding teddy bears in bondage gear that led to angry responses regarding child safety and abuse.

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