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Kim Kardashian ‘re-evaluating’ Balenciaga relationship over child images

Kim Kardashian has spoken out about a Balenciaga campaign that featured controversial images of children. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)
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Kim Kardashian is “re-evaluating” her relationship with Balenciaga, the reality star said Sunday night, after the luxury fashion brand was widely criticized for a campaign featuring children posing with teddy bears in what appeared to be bondage gear.

“As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images,” she said on Twitter. “The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”

Last week, photos surfaced of a Balenciaga campaign that showed children holding teddy bears in leather gear resembling that used in BDSM, an abbreviation for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism. One photo showed a child holding a bear that was dressed in wrist and ankle restraints with a lock and chain around its neck.

At the same time Belanciaga was facing backlash over an earlier ad for a purse that featured a printout of the 2008 United States v. Williams decision, which ruled on the constitutionality of a law prohibiting the pandering of child pornography. Balenciaga has said it will sue the production company it worked with on that campaign.

After teddy bear backlash, Balenciaga announces lawsuit for separate ad

Kardashian said she had waited to speak out “not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.”

“I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again,” she said.

Amid the criticism, Balenciaga said in a post to its Instagram story last week that “we sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused.”

“Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign,” it said.

As of Sunday evening, Balenciaga’s Instagram posts had been hidden or deleted. (The comment sections of Instagram posts are often commandeered as a public forum for expressing criticism of brands or public figures.)

Kardashian, who has worked as an ambassador for Balenciaga, said she was “currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.”

Balenciaga said in a statement Monday: “We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”

It added that “internal and external investigations” were ongoing, and that Balenciaga was “closely revising our organization” and adding new controls to “prevent this from happening again.”