The fashion brand Zara posted last weekend a photoshoot showcasing its new kidswear collection on Instagram … and it did not go well. The pictures were flooded with disapproving comments accusing the brand of “sexualizing a child”, which prompted the company to remove the pictures from its IG account.
However, the controversy did not die off. A British mother posted the pics on the popular forum Mumsnet with the title I’m feeling uncomfortable about this Zara kids ad. The post lead to more outrage and some media attention.
Shot by the “legendary” photographer Fabien Baron (who designed Madonna’s infamous Sex book), the pictures feature a young girl wearing a thin dress, standing on a darkened beach or sitting on a bed.
In this pic, the dress is “strategically” revealing. Also, the setting around the girl is dark and creepy and she doesn’t look too happy. But that’s not all. There’s some symbolism going on here. Notice the girl’s hand position. Does it remind of something?
Here are the other pics posted on Zara’s IG account.
While some commenters saw nothing wrong with the pictures, many found the pictures “creepy” and “inappropriate for a child”. Most were disturbed by the all-around “adult” vibe of the last one. Here are some comments posted on Mumsnet.
Did the photographer purposely sexualize a child? Or are people looking too much into this? Maybe we should look at other works by the photographer.
Shot by Fabien Baron
Fabien Baron is a French photographer, art director, and magazine editor. He is renowned internationally for his iconic ad campaigns and his work as editorial director of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine.
Baron gained great notoriety for designing Madonna’s 1992 book Sex. At the time of its release, the book generated a great deal of controversy around the world due to its explicit pictures of various taboo practices. While the book was deemed shocking 27 years ago, it foreshadowed the exact direction that the fashion and music industry would take in the following decades. In short, it was a blueprint for the entertainment industry today.
Here are some pages from that book.
I won’t analyze the entire book here but the following page is relevant to this article. It is about Madonna copulating with a teenager who had “hardly no pubic hair” and who was “just a baby”.
The fashion industry is becoming too “comfortable” with children. Prime examples of this phenomenon are the entire catalog of the children’s fashion brand Caroline Bosmans and Céline Dion’s disturbing clothing line for children. Although the Zara pictures are more subtle, they nevertheless exude a similar dark, creepy and uncomfortable vibe while featuring a child in adult situations.
Considering the fact that these pictures were shot by a photographer who literally trailblazed the “over-sexualization” of mass media, one would be inclined to think there was no accident here. He knew exactly what he was doing.