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Madeleine McCann's Parents Hurt Over Viral H&M Meme

Last week, international fashion retailer H&M was the target of some serious backlash after one of their recent online advertisement for their children's clothing line was seen as racist by many people.

The fashion chain was selling children's hoodies on their U.S. and U.K. online stores inscribed with the phrases "Coolest Monkey In the Jungle" and "Mangrove Jungle Official Survival Expert Junior Tour Guide."

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When the hoodies were initially posted to H&M's U.K. website, people noticed that the green-colored "Coolest Monkey In The Jungle" hoodie was modeled by a black child and many were offended by it.

Although "monkey" is often used by parents as a term of endearment, the historic context of the word has been deemed offensive by many black people because it was once used to demean them.

"@hm this is disgusting & irresponsible," wrote an angry Twitter user. "You know the history of racist using the term “monkey” to demean people of African descent... and you put this on your website!  'Coolest Monkey In the Jungle' #SMH"

The Swedish-based retailer later apologized, but some people decided to take matters into their own hands with a little help from Photoshop.

Soccer player Romelu Lukaku was one of the first to kick start the trend of doctoring the boy's photo to appear less offensive. He changed the words on the hoodie to "Black is Beautiful," and shared his work on Instagram.

While some users redesigned their own versions of the hoodie with positive messages, the trolls also jumped on the bandwagon with some tasteless edits. One person went as far as using a photo of Madeleine McCann, who went missing a few years ago.

A source close to the McCann's gave a statement to The Sun revealing how Maddie's parents, Gerry and Kate, feel about the entire situation.

A Twitter user shared the image of the missing girl's head Photoshopped onto an H&M shirt along with the slogan "Hide & Seek Champion" written on it.

Although H&M is not associated with the photo, the troll captioned it with "Absolutely disgusting from H&M I'm ashamed!! [SIC]"

The post has since received over 24,000 retweets and 68,000 likes. While some people praised the picture and dubbed it funny, many found it to be to awful and distasteful.

One Twitter user wrote: "This pic must've been doctored by someone sick. Not H&M, I'm sure."

Another asked, "Would you do that if it was your daughter who was missing?"

Maddie was just three-years-old when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment on a Portuguese resort over ten years ago. Her mysterious disappearance has been one of the most publicized international cases, and despite several leads and theories, there has never been a significant development.

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Last year, Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police have been given a combined total of about $16 million to extend their investigation, but Maddie has not yet been located.

Over the years, her parents have been the target of harsh criticism and bullying because many believe they were involved in Maddie's disappearance. This latest photo is just among hundreds of other offensive and abusive messages the McCann's have been subjected to.

The Sun

A source close to the family told The Sun that Gerry and Kate "Can't believe all this tasteless rubbish is resurfacing again," adding, "It’s so offensive and so unnecessary."

"We’ve had this this sort of stuff before and now it’s back up there again," the source continued. "It causes more hurt to a family still suffering but they do their best to ignore negativity and spiteful postings."

In 2017, a study found that the McCann's receive over 150 abusive messages from social media users every day despite the fact that they've repeatedly denied their involvement in their daughter's disappearance.

The viral Madeleine image isn't the only version of the meme that has rubbed some people the wrong way. There's a image of Anne Frank in a H&M sweatshirt that reads, "coolest jew in the chamber" that has been circulating the web.

As of today, the images are still up and neither Twitter nor H&M has issued a statement addressing these memes.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.