Fashion giant H&M is under scrutiny after being accused of sexualising young children in an advertisement, leading to a public outcry and subsequent withdrawal of the controversial campaign in Australia. The ad, featuring two primary school-age girls wearing grey-hued pinafore dresses, sparked criticism for its tagline encouraging them to Make those heads turn in H&Ms Back to School fashion.The advertisement, circulating widely on the internet, depicts two young girls in grey pinafore dresses, accompanied by the controversial tagline. The visual elements, combined with the suggestive slogan, drew immediate attention and criticism.The tagline, Make those heads turn in H&Ms Back to School fashion, raised concerns about the inappropriate emphasis on the appearance of young schoolgirls. Critics argued that such messaging was inappropriate for children, particularly as it could contribute to societal pressures related to appearance.Criticism and social media uproarAustralian author Melinda Tankard Reist was among the first to criticize the ad, questioning the intention behind encouraging young girls to turn heads with their appearance. She emphasized that schoolgirls generally prefer to focus on learning and having fun without drawing undue attention to their looks.@hm @hmaustralia what is your intention with this sponsored Facebook ad Little schoolgirls generally dont want to “turn heads”. The large numbers I engage with in schools want to be left alone to learn and have fun and not draw unwanted attention to their appearance 1/ pic.twitter.com/DDwv42GeNz— Melinda TankardReist (@MelTankardReist) January 18, 2024The criticism gained momentum on social media, with users expressing strong opinions against the ad. The uproar prompted H&M to withdraw the campaign and issue a public apology.The little girls parents generally prefer heads dont turn when others see their daughters walking to school, on a bus or in class. Why would you want to fuel the idea that little girls should draw attention to their looks, bodies and style 2/— Melinda TankardReist (@MelTankardReist) January 18, 2024H&Ms ResponseIn response to the backlash, H&M issued an apology and promptly removed the controversial ad. The fashion retailer acknowledged the offense caused and committed to reviewing its campaign presentation methods in the future.H&Ms statement indicated a willingness to reconsider how future campaigns are presented, signaling a recognition of the need for sensitivity when addressing topics related to young children.Similar Incidents in the IndustryThis incident brings to mind a similar controversy involving Chinese-owned online marketplace Temu in 2023. The marketplace faced criticism for an advertisement allegedly sexualising young children, leading to concerns about age-appropriate content in marketing.