Baby clothing brand Little Bams has earned some parents' loyalty with its products catered to offer the best comfort for toddlers. Though it offers a limited range of apparel, it has received good feedback. The brand, which claims to have started out with a "desire to create amazing products for your little ones", showcases its new products with baby models from time to time. And as it appears, in one such attempt, the brand sought baby models but the advertisement had shocking requirements.
The Little Bams advertisement for baby models mentioned requirements such as age, weight, height, and more shockingly: complexion. The ad read: "Baby specifications: Fair complexion" as one of the requirements. The other requirements were "baby with hair, weight - 7.5kg to 10kg and height - 66cm to 74cm."
The advertisement was circulated among parents via WhatsApp, which instantly sparked a debate. Some parents lambasted the brand for the blatant discrimination followed by an apathetic response.
"I politely suggested that they should remove, correct and never again use such tactics. Their response was apathetic at best. Follow-up questions from me were met with blame-shifting and justifications leaning towards inclusivity that didn't make any sense to me," Sapna (name changed), a mother of a 2-year-old, told International Business Times in sheer shock.
IBTimes reviewed screenshots of conversations mothers have had with the brand to verify their claims. Responding to one of the parents, the point of contact in the advertisement went as far as justifying the discriminatory post.
When a parent pointed out that "blatantly calling children of a certain complexion to be a part of the campaign is very disappointing, the spokesperson's dismissive reply came as a shock. "This is how the industry works" was one of the responses by the person listed as a contact in the ad.
"We should be teaching kids open-mindedness and how the world runs. Irrespective of the above factors or what the world asks for, they should love their color, height, weight, etc. Making them believe that fair/dark shouldn't be mentioned itself is being discriminatory," the POC said.
"We have a huge responsibility in breaking barriers and making the world a more accepting, loving place for our children. Such instances throw a wrench in these efforts," a disappointed mother of a 2-year-old told us on the condition of anonymity.
IBTimes spoke to another mother Nidhi, who was deeply hurt by the Little Bams ad, which she said made her feel like she is "back in the 1920s."
"As a child who grew up with complexion issues, I have been very sensitive about this. It has taken me years to accept and love my body. Since I had my daughter, I have made conscious efforts to ensure she does not face such discrimination," she told us.
But when Nidhi reached out to the brand, she too was faced with a similar treatment. The brand tried to justify the ad and pretended like nothing was wrong with it. In fact, the Nidhi was schooled on parenting in a dismissive tone.
"Being in the advertising industry, every brand has specifications. If you were an experienced mother in this field you would have understood the message better. I suggest you focus your synergies on raising your beautiful Baby rather than getting into unnecessary discussions," read a shocking response from a spokesperson to Nidhi on a personal chat.
But when Nidhi took to social media, the owner of the brand called her and apologized. Nidhi shared screenshots of her conversation with the founder of Little Bams, in which she can be seen apologizing.
"What will I do with an apology? I mean, it's the thinking and mindset that needs to change. An apology is no good," Nidhi told us. The founder clarified to her that the brand was unaware of the advertisement and blamed the agency.
International Business Times has reached out to Little Bams and the agency spokesperson for a statement on the matter. But there hasn't been any response as of this writing. The article will be duly updated.
Parents lose faith; startup loses business
The ad by Little Bams has cost the startup. Many parents reportedly disassociated themselves from the brand. In fact, one of the mothers noted that the brand lost at least 50 customers in a day.
"I was aware of the brand's existence, have heard good things about the quality of their products and have considered purchasing from them, which I will refrain from having now seen this advertisement," Sapna concluded.
No tolerance for discrimination
In 2020, when the Fair and Lovely brand was heavily criticized for promoting fairness as a symbol of beauty in an Indian milieu where diversity of skin tones is prevalent, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) decided to stop using the word 'Fair' in the flagship brand 'Fair & Lovely' with a "more inclusive vision of beauty".
In early 2019, the brand's communication moved away from the benefits of fairness, whitening and skin lightening, towards glow, even tone, skin clarity and radiance, which are holistic measures of healthy skin.