Burberry sparks ‘gender critical’ backlash over loving ad showing model with double mastectomy scars

Two models rest their head on one another affectionately.

Luxury fashion house Burberry has received criticism from so-called “gender critical” activists for showing a trans model with mastectomy scars.

The company posted a set of images and a short video from a Valentine’s Day photoshoot on 23 January as part of its “B:MINE” campaign.

One of the images was of two gender-nonconforming models affectionately resting their heads against one another, with the left model showing their double-mastectomy scars.

The procedure aims to remove breast tissue both as a method of removing cancer and as gender-affirming care for trans-masculine people.

Criticism almost immediately swamped Burberry, with several users saying the photos had “nothing to do with fashion” while others said they would unfollow the account.

On Twitter, several so-called “gender critical” pundits shared their outrage that a model would dare show off surgical scars in a campaign centred around love and acceptance.

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The images were quickly removed by the fashion company in response, but its campaign video, which features both models, is still present.

The video was also bombarded with homophobic comments calling the embrace of same-sex and gender-diverse couples “gross” and “disgusting.”

The campaign was also attacked by journalist Sarah Vine, who said in a Daily Mail column that she found the model’s surgical scars “uncomfortable,” calling it “weird and sick”.

“It’s a stark, rather grim photo,” Vine wrote. “Neither looks very happy. The red welts across the man’s chest look jagged and painful. The duo’s haircuts are raw and extreme.”

But, despite the growing hostility towards someone with some marks on their chest, LGBTQ+ people showed support for the representation, with some saying the “pure hate” in comments was “awful.”

“You’d think by now there’d be way more support for the LGBTQ+ community after so many years of fighting,” one person said.

Burberry’s reaction to the backlash drew criticism from advocacy groups, however, which criticised the company for taking down the photos so quickly while arguing that it was indicative of a “complete lack of integrity.”

LGBTQ+ charity Not A Phase chief executive Danielle St James told PinkNews that Burberry’s decision to delete the photo was “disappointing, but sadly unsurprising”.

“It reflects a complete lack of integrity by the brand,” she said. “As a society, we have learned over the last decade how representation can completely change someone’s life, seeing yourself reflected in the vision of someone in the media is vitally important.

“Without it, anyone that doesn’t fit the straight, cis, white, able-bodied image that was exclusively celebrated prior to more recent times is left feeling like they do not belong.”

The activist also took issue with pundits claiming that seeing a trans person could “radicalise children” and shamed those who compared it to “child abuse.”

“If representation groomed or radicalised young people, then we would all end up straight and cis, wouldn’t we?

“We are living through another cultural revolution for trans people and when it comes to media representation, we need the brands that profit from our image to stand by their decisions.”

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