The luxury fashion label Burberry is facing intense backlash following an advertisement featuring a topless model bearing the scars of a bilateral mastectomy with many accusing the company of glamorizing surgical sex changes.
The controversial photograph is part of a newly launched Valentine’s themed campaign called B:MINE and depicts two "gender-nonconforming" female models embracing, one clothed, the other topless.
Several other photographs in the series feature a variety of couples posing together in various states of undress, but none of the others are showing off surgical scars.
The world of fashion has a long history of glorifying unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating disorders and drug addiction. Everyone of a certain age will remember the heroin chic trend on the catwalks of the 90s. The industry rightly came under fire for glamorizing substance abuse and the accompanying waif-like body type.
The 90s was a decade of eating disorder epidemics, as teenage girls and young women tried to live up to the impossible beauty standards they saw all around them. Social contagions of anorexia and bulimia raged through high schools and universities, and celebrity struggles such as that of Princess Diana added fuel to the fire.
The latest Burberry ad shows little has changed, and that the fashion industry has learned nothing. While Burberry has yet to comment on the photograph, one can assume the intention behind it was to promote compassion and inclusivity, so that young women who believe themselves to be men see themselves represented in the world.
A more cynical take might be that the company is just trying to score woke points or provoke a reaction.
But what the ad is really doing is normalizing experimental sex changes. Telling teenage girls and young women that they can opt out of womanhood. All it takes is some shots of testosterone and a medically unnecessary bilateral mastectomy and all the woes of female puberty vanish.
If you don’t like your breasts, have them cut off.
Messaging matters. As gender clinics all over the world report huge surges in teenage girls seeking experimental sex changes, the last thing the fashion world should be doing is encouraging more vulnerable young women to embark upon this dangerous journey.
The fashion industry promoting gender-nonconformity is to be applauded, but not when it comes with glorifying the sacrifice of healthy body parts.
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