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'Dystopian': Fashion retailer features assisted suicide story in video, prompting outrage

SCREENSHOT: "All is Beauty" (Simons/YouTube)
SCREENSHOT: "All is Beauty" (Simons/YouTube)
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A Canadian fashion retailer recently released a video featuring the story of a person who chose to euthanize herself, prompting strong reaction from critics online.

La Maison Simons, more commonly known as just "Simons," is a brand headquartered in Quebec that traces its roots back to 1840. It is a very popular fashion brand that has a global reach.

In a video posted about a month ago titled "All Is Beauty," Simons tells the tale of a terminally ill woman who has opted for medically-assisted voluntary euthanasia. The topic is presented to viewers by the use of calming and serene images, such as oceans and glowing whale-shaped lanterns, as soft music plays in the background.

The video is narrated by the terminally ill woman named "Jennyfer," and allows her to explain her reasoning for choosing to be euthanized.

Dying in a hospital is not what’s natural, that’s not what’s soft. In these kinds of moments you need softness," Jennyfer says in the video.

The words "A BEAUTIFUL EXIT" appear on screen while Jennyfer talks. She speaks on her decision and the importance it holds to her, saying that "last breaths are sacred." The video ends with the words "For Jennyfer: June 1985 to October 2022," implying Jennyfer went through with the euthanasia.

Canada's "medical assistance in dying (MAiD)" program has reportedly grown in use over the past years. About 2.5% of all deaths in Canada in 2020 were attributed to the program, and just one year later, that number grew to 3.3%.

Former Simons CEO Peter Simons, who stepped down in March, said in his own separate video that the video for the fashion brand was "obviously not a commercial campaign."

It’s more an effort to use our freedom, our voice, and the privilege we have to speak and create every day in a way that is more about human connection," Simons says. "And I think we sincerely believe that companies have a responsibility to participate in communities and to help build the communities that we want to live in tomorrow, and leave to our children."

Critics have shamed the company online for allegedly using Jennyfer's story to help them sell products. One critic even called the video "dystopian."

Simons isn't the only brand facing backlash for a controversial content campaign. Balenciaga recently staged a photoshoot featuring young children holding teddy bear handbags. The teddy bears were apparently dressed in stereotypical bondage gear, including studded leather straps and fishnet shirts.

That Balenciaga advertisement caught the attention of several social media users, leading to fierce pushback. Balenciaga has since deleted its Twitter account and purged many posts from its Instagram account.

The Simons Twitter account remains active.

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