United Colors of Benetton, a fashion brand once heralded for its inclusive and thought-provoking ad campaigns, is now under fire for a sexist Instagram post.
United Colors of Benetton is being called out for a sexist caption on an Instagram post promoting its kids line.
The picture, which was posted on June 2, is still up on its page and reads, "Sorry ladies. Girls not allowed! #SS17 #Benetton #kids."
Yeah. Girls not allowed. Uncool.
Benetton is no stranger to controversial campaigns, but it usually advocates for a certain cause. Back in the day, the brand was known for its shocking campaigns, like newborn babies with the umbilical cord still attached or rival global leaders kissing.
"No girls allowed" is a huge, regressive step backwards.
Twitter and Instagram users were quick to call this sexism out.
On Instagram, one user said, "You seem to have shot yourselves in the foot -- Potentially perfect advertising picture, gender-neutral and diverse, too, yet totally ruined by a stupid, sexist caption. Such a missed opportunity! Shame on you!!!"
"This is the most random caption ever. Out of nowhere, a cute picture of unisex clothing, adorable kids, and you say 'girls not allowed?' What exactly about these clothes make it so girls can't wear this?? So disappointing."
The brand changed the caption for Twitter, but users still noticed the difference. "Glad you cut the 'no girls allowed' text. However, it's truly disappointing you used such sexist text in the 1st place," a Twitter user said.
After being dragged so comprehensively, Benetton was forced to apologize — and it was REALLY unsatisfying.
We're very sorry that our message struck the wrong chord with some of you. We only meant to be playful in this post, and we apologize if we have unintentionally offended anyone. We certainly did not intend to be sexist. In fact, we take pride in the fact that United Colors of Benetton has always promoted gender equality, which we firmly believe is necessary for building a better world. This is precisely why we launched - in 2015 - the Women Empowerment Program, a long-term sustainability program aimed at supporting and empowering women worldwide," brand reps said.
While commitment to gender-equality charities is great, the post remains on Benetton's Instagram account — raising the question as to why it had to use such gendered, exclusionary language in the first place.
Benetton has been one of THE most progressive brands out there — challenging the status quo made the label truly unique. That's why it's so sad Benetton fell back on sexist language like this to sell clothing — especially as more brands embrace gender-neutral fashion lines.
Hopefully, United Colors of Benetton remembers its roots and does a lot better. We owe ourselves — and our kids — a lot better than this.