Calvin Klein advert that shows Bella Hadid kissing Lil Miquela criticised for queer-baiting

'Stop using lesbianism to sell your clothing'

Sarah Young
Friday 17 May 2019 11:27
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Bella Hadid makes out with Lil Miquela in new Calvin Klein commercial

Social media users are accusing Calvin Klein of queer-baiting with its new advert, which shows Bella Hadid kissing CGI influencer Lil Miquela.

On Thursday, the US fashion brand released its latest video for its new campaign “I Speak My Truth in #MyCalvins”.

The campaign aims to capture the essence of individuality and expression of the artists and models involved – including Kendall Jenner, Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes – with a series of stylised videos.

For the final video instalment, Hadid is shown standing in a dimly lit blue room wearing a Calvin-emblazoned black T-shirt, cycling shorts, socks and trainers.

As the room lights up, 19-year-old avatar Lil Miquela walks towards her dressed in a red tracksuit, trainers, and her hair styled in "space buns".

Hadid is then seen caressing Miquela’s face while saying: “Life is about opening doors, creating new dreams that you never knew could exist.”

Then, the pair share an unexpected kiss and stare at each other until the light dims again.

The video has been met with mixed reaction online, with many people accusing the brand of queer-bating – a term used to describe purposely teasing the possibility of being queer in an effort to appeal to audiences.

“Who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you're supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! [sic]” one person wrote on Twitter.

Another person added: “The Calvin Klein ad where Bella Hadid makes out with Lil Miquela... 1. Stop using lesbianism to sell your clothing.. we’re not garnish for men 2. Should have been me.”

While a third commented: “This is queer baiting...not a fan.”

Queer-baiting can be harmful is because queer representation is not widely portrayed in the media.

It is widely believed that queer-baiting refrains from embracing the minority while using queerness as a way to get more viewers and money.

Lil Miquela, otherwise known as Miquela Sousa, is a digital character that debuted on Instagram in 2016.

The CGI influencer was created by a startup called Brud, which was valued at $125m (£96) by technology media outlet TechCrunch earlier this year.

The 19-year-old character boats more than 1.5m followers on Instagram and has worked with a number of major fashion brands including Prada, Ugg, Supreme and Chanel.

This isn't the first time a brand or celebrity has been accused of queer-bating. Last month, Ariana Grande was accused of using the tactic in her single "Monopoly", in which she sings about liking "women and men".

The song prompted some of the singer’s fans to question whether the lyric was a nod to the singer’s bisexuality, while others criticised the pop star for queer-baiting.

This is not the first time Grande has been accused of doing so either – in February, her music video for “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” had fans questioning whether the singer was using bisexuality as a ploy for increasing her fan base.

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