The parents of the five-year-old model pictured in the H&M advert that sparked controversy due to the slogan on his hoodie have said they’ve protected him from the global backlash.
Terry and Frank Mango, from Stockholm, Sweden, have moved out of their family home after the controversy. They said their son Liam has seen his photo on the internet, but sees it only as a positive thing.
“People should understand that we have children and we have an obligation to protect our children,” said Frank on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ on 15 January.
Terry added: “If I had a way to take this off I would take it off today. My son is very young. He’s not really aware of what’s happening. He’s aware that he’s a superstar and he believes people love him for his modelling job.”
After the interview, five-year-old Liam - who hadn’t been aware of the previous line of questioning - came into the studio.
When asked what he liked about modelling he replied: “I do. I’m nice and I’m a model.”
Prior to Liam’s arrival on set, his parents discussed the backlash against the photo of Liam in the H&M hoodie that features the slogan: “Coolest monkey in the jungle”.
Liam is part of a modelling agency in Sweden, and H&M is a client of that agency. His parents always attend his photoshoots as he is a minor.
However, with the amount of shoots he does and the number of clothes he wears per shoot, the parents said it was very hard to remember the particular moment he was modelling the hoodie in question.
When asked if they would “see alarm bells” if they did see him modelling that specific top, Terry replied: “Not for me, I wouldn’t see such a connection to anything other than my son modelling. When the controversy came out, you look back and wonder what your initial response would be.
“It’s not an overreaction when it comes to racism, everybody should act on their own opinions of what racism is.”
Terry explained she has had racist remarks directed at her in the past, including being “called a monkey on the cruise ship”.
She added: “But the top... I am looking at a black young boy modelling a top with the word monkey on it.”
‘This Morning’ is on ITV on weekdays from 10.30am.