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Adidas faces backlash over "woke" swimsuit ad

The advertisement on Adidas' website features a male-presenting model with chest hair and a noticeable bulge sporting the brand's "Pride Swimsuit."
Credit: AP
FILE - A sign is displayed in front of an Adidas retail store in Paramus, N.J., Oct. 25, 2022. Adidas is facing a class-action lawsuit from investors that was filed Friday, April 28, 2023, alleging the company knew about offensive remarks and harmful behavior from Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, years before ending its partnership with him. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK — An Adidas campaign featuring a model who appears to be a biological male wearing a women's one-piece swimsuit has ignited anger on social media. 

The advertisement on Adidas' website features a male-presenting model with chest hair and a noticeable bulge sporting the brand's "Pride Swimsuit," a colorful, geometric-patterned one-piece. The $70 bathing suit is part of the Adidas x Rich Mnisi Pride Collection, which launched May 15 in connection with this year's upcoming Pride month, a celebration of the LGBTQ community.

South African designer Rich Mnisi, who partnered with Addias on the Pride-themed apparel line, said in a statement that the collection is "a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQIA+ advocacy."

But not everyone is celebrating the campaign. Some social media users accused the product line's advertisement of contributing to the "erasure" of women.

"We women will not be erased," one Twitter user posted. "Quit trying to replace us with male models!!! We've fought hard to be heard. Quit attempting to erase us again!!!"

Others said Adidas is too "woke," a term for those with progressive social justice views. 

"Go woke, go broke. Time to boycott Adidas," another Twitter user wrote, citing a catchphrase conservatives have adopted as a call to boycott companies espousing progressive values.

Riley Gaines, a professional swimmer and known critic of transgender women competing in women's sporting events, also weighed in on the controversy.

"What the image says to me is that women don't matter, is that we're not good enough to model even our own swimsuits made specifically for women," Gaines told Fox News. 

The gender identity of the model featured in the advertisement is unclear. Adidas did not immediately return CBS MoneyWatch's request for comment.  

Adidas shares have fallen 3% to $86.10 over the past 24 hours. 

In recent years, several popular brands have come under fire for using transgender or gender-fluid people in their advertising or for rolling out products that defy traditional gender norms.

In April, Bud Light received backlash for partnering with transgender TikToker Dylan Mulvaney on a March Madness advertisement. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns Bud Light, put the brand's marketing vice president and her boss on leave after the promotion resulted in a boycott, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Target also drew criticism last summer for embracing the LGBTQ community when it rolled out an intimate apparel collection featuring chest binders and unisex underwear and swimsuits for Pride month.

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