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Adidas faces backlash over swimsuit advertisement

An Adidas swimsuit advertising campaign for Pride month is stirring controversy.

The ad, posted on the apparel company's website, features a male-presenting model 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 Adidas on the Pride-themed apparel line, said in a statement that the collection is "a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQIA+ advocacy." 

Adidas did not immediately return CBS MoneyWatch's request for comment. In releasing the swimsuit line, Adidas said it is working to enhance "equity and safety for sport's marginalized communities through advocacy and allyship."

Some critics took issue with Adidas' ad, with one Twitter user accusing the company of trying to "erase" women. 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. 

But Jay Brown, senior vice president of programs, research and training at advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, defended Adidas, telling USA Today that such criticism is "just the latest example of an ideology obsessed with erasing LGBTQ+ people."

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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