This Instagram Gaffe Is The Latest Example Of Fashion People Not “Getting” Asian Racism

A few days ago, a damning photo was posted on Glamour Brasil's Instagram account: It featured a handful of editors at the publication posing with bowed hands or pulling their eyes at the corners to create a slanted shape, which was clearly in imitation of Asian features and culture. The offensive shot was related to the magazine's forthcoming "Glamour in Japan" project. It was live on the magazine's Instagram account for two full days before being taken down on Friday, though it's still up for all to see on Bryanboy's account.
The blogger deftly criticised the editors for the social media yellowface gaffe: "Before posting slitty eye jokes, maybe you should educate yourselves that your salaries are (mostly) paid for by the same slitty-eyed ASIAN shoppers you mock who buy luxury goods from (mostly) white brands who advertise on your publication," he wrote. "We would like to apologise to those who have felt offended! We didn’t have that intention and really regret what happened," Glamour Brasil wrote in an apology post on Instagram.
This, unfortunately, definitely isn't the first time that fashion editors have been astoundingly ignorant about perpetuating Asian stereotypes (that are, in some cases, straight-up mocking). In 2011, Vogue Japan (which is helmed by a white editor, Anna Dello Russo) landed in hot water for depicting model Crystal Renn with her eyes taped to create a more slanted, almond shape in this video. Then, three years ago, Elle deemed "North Korea chic" a top trend from the fall 2013 shows, citing "take no prisoners tailoring" and an "edgier, more dangerous" take on a military aesthetic Beyond editorial, er, oversights, there are far too many examples of the fashion industry really missing the mark when it comes to Asian stereotypes. Last year's Met Gala theme, "China: Through the Looking Glass," proved to be controversial to some; so was the event's red carpet sightings, which involved a number of looks replete with poppies, a flower that's darkly symbolic in Chinese culture for its connection to the 19th-century Opium Wars. Retailers have made some very questionable calls about Asian-referencing garb, too. Two years ago, Topshop was criticised for this necklace (and its matching bracelet and earrings) featuring a string of Chinese mask charms that resemble racist anti-Chinese propaganda imagery from the late 1800s. In 2010, Dior's "Shanghai Dreamers" campaign did not go over so well, incensing some with the orientalist overtones of the imagery. Victoria's Secret's 2012 "Go East" collection also rubbed people the wrong way: One of the looks was even described as "Sexy Little Geisha." Back in 2002, Abercrombie & Fitch got blasted for selling racist T-shirts. And beyond the fashion sphere, racism toward Asian cultures can crop up in the Hollywood casting process. Take, for example, the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, released this year. It featured a Scottish (female) actress playing an Asian (male) fashion designer, as comedian Margaret Cho lividly called out. Granted, the convergence of ethnic background and style is rocky terrain. (Plus, the connection between cultural identity and one's personal relationship with fashion can be complicated, as this essay about having a wariness about "Asian" fashion trends proves.) Cultural appropriation is a topic that certainly, and unfortunately, has plenty of grey areas: What's offensive to one person might not raise a red flag to someone else. But Glamour Brasil's editors' racist photo opp is a pretty unequivocal misstep, and, quite frankly, they certainly should've known better.

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