The mother of American child model Ella Gross has lashed out against critics who accused Baskin Robbins for “sexualising” the 11-year-old girl in its commercial for South Korean audiences.
Calling the remarks made by critics “careless and combative”, Wynne Gross said in an Instagram post on Tuesday (July 2) that she was “saddened to see how certain segments of the Korean public reacted to this commercial”.
The commercial Gross refers to is a TV ad made by Baskin Robbins in South Korea which features the Instagram star promoting the ice cream chain’s latest Pink Star flavour.
According to Korea Herald, the ad came under fire after netizens accused it of “sexualising” the young girl by putting her in heavy make-up and clothes which made her look older than she is.
Many South Korean netizens also said some of Gross’ poses in the 30-second ad “gave off sexual implications“, Korea Herald reported.
In response, Baskin Robbins has removed the ad and apologised.
The company was quoted by Korea Herald as saying that Gross had on “a typical amount of makeup for a child model”. The clothes she was wearing are from a child-wear brand she models for, Baskin Robbins added.
It also clarified that her parents had been involved in discussions on how she would be portrayed in the ad.
In her statement made on Tuesday, Wynne Gross said the ad was meant to be “a fun commercial” but ended up being perceived as “something disgusting and horrific”.
“It pains me that people have lashed out in such a careless and combative way,” she wrote.
She also wrote: “To those that are rallying against the Baskin Robbins commercial, stop saying that you are doing this ‘for Ella’.
“She is surrounded and loved by many strong and powerful women who wholeheartedly have her best interests at heart and who are confused and angered by your hurtful and negative reactions to a beautiful child.”
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I wanted to take a moment to address the reaction that Ella received to a recent project that she worked on with Baskin Robbins Korea. I’m saddened to see how certain segments of the Korean public reacted to this commercial. What was honestly meant to be a fun commercial for a new ice cream flavor is being perceived by them as something disgusting and horrific. As most women, I have many roles in my life. However, I am first and foremost a mother, a title in which I take great pride and value above anything else. Ella is my daughter who I would gladly give my life for. It pains me that people have lashed out in such a careless and combative way. Ella continues to grow up with strong faith in God and I pray she will be a role model for other girls. What matters most is how you are on the inside. Ella is a beautiful soul because she truly does not have any bad intentions. She is one of the most hard working, strongest, sweetest, down to earth girls you will ever meet. She is intelligent, she is humble, and she really is a great girl. To those that are rallying against the Baskin Robbins commercial, stop saying that you are doing this “for Ella.” She is surrounded and loved by many strong and powerful women who wholeheartedly have her best interests at heart and who are confused and angered by your hurtful and negative reactions to a beautiful child. To Ella’s fans, her friends and family that pour love onto our sweet girl, I truly want to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart. I have realized how a few words of kindness really mean more than a thousand words of hate. I am so thankful for you all! ~Ella’s Mom
Since the post, many Instagram users have voiced support for Gross by commending her work in the ad.
One user, @helloseoha_, wrote: “Ignore all the negative comments, When I first saw the commercial on YouTube, I was like ‘yes!’ Just know that Ella has many supporters like me and her commercial was just beautiful.”
Another, @thecatjiminholdsinserendipity, wrote: “Shame on those people who turned an innocent commercial into something so vile. Ella is a sweet child and anyone who sees her in any other way is seriously sick and should seek help.”
The young Gross, who has more than 3 million followers on Instagram, is based in Los Angeles, but has found worldwide fame, especially in South Korea.
In July last year, South Korean agency YG Entertainment confirmed it had signed a contract with the child, who was born to a Korean mother and American father, The Straits Times reported.
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