Following severe backlash and an online petition, Kmart Australia has pulled a bride costume for girls from stores, reportedly hours after it hit shelves. Earlier this week, a photo of a bride costume in children's sizes sold at the superstore circulated online after an Australian mom brought attention to it, calling it "beyond inappropriate and offensive" in a Change.org petition.
"A child bride costume currently exists on Kmart shelves in children's sizes," the author of the petition, named "Shannon B." wrote. "Tell Kmart this is beyond inappropriate and offensive and that they have a social responsibility to pull this item off their shelves immediately. Please help me get this to Kmart immediately."
The petition garnered over 500 signatures and ultimately caught Kmart Australia's attention. By Tuesday afternoon, the retailer responded by removing the Halloween costume, according to WDRB, which sold for $6 and geared towards girls as young as 4 years old. Photos of costume indicate that it came with a white dress for the "bride" along with a headband with an attached veil.
The company did not immediately respond to Romper's request regarding to the costume or the petition, but Kmart Australia told News Australia in a statement that the company "regrets the decision to range the bride costume... It was not intended to cause offense and we sincerely apologize. We have made the decision to withdraw this product."
Citing concerns that the costume made light of child marriage — a global issue UNICEF refers to as "a form of violence against children" — the petition quickly garneded attention on social media. Opinions have been mixed on the matter, with some agreeing with the petition's author that the costume was inappropriate and others who did not find it offensive.
"I don't find this bride costume offensive," one person expressed on Twitter in response to Kmart's decision to pull the costume. "Children play pretend games. Pretend games is how children learn. My message to this woman, don't like it, don't buy it. Like I never bought a toy gun for my son when he was a child because I didn't like guns."
Another chimed in, "For goodness sake it’s just a costume and children are just playing 'pretending,' dress up and [have] fun. This is so wrong. Can parents [please] leave the kids alone let them [have] their childhood?"
However, some who signed the petition felt differently, as one signer wrote, "This is beyond inappropriate for a costume." Another said, "Enough of the inappropriate costumes. Stop this!" One more wrote, "Child human trafficking is real."
The petition author's concerns are very real, of course. Child marriage is a "truly global problem" that can be found in every culture, religion, and ethnicity, according to the international non-governmental organization Girls Not Brides, which notes that "12 million girls marry before the age of 18" every year.
While feelings have been mixed on Kmart Australia's bride costume, World Vision Australia's child rights advocate Mercy Jumo commended the company's decision to remove it in a statement to 7 News Australia. "Anything that [trivializes] child marriage is disturbing," Jumo told the news outlet.