A recent advertisement by Gucci, for its new line of bamboo top bags, depicts a woman with exaggerated makeup and ‘Asian like features’ such as slanty eyes and high cheekbones. The racist use of makeup to present an ‘Asian face’ is being called out by internet users across China.
They furthermore state that such characterization is purely intentional and born out of guilt. Recently, Mercedes Benz received flak for a similar ad, which showed models with exaggerated slanty eyes. This western narrative of the ‘Asian look’ has persisted since centuries, and the Asian population is clearly not ready to accept it any longer.
One citizen also stated that this should not be considered as a tradition versus modernity battle. The Chinese community as a whole is quite open to new ideas of fashion, beauty, and make up. However, using features to create caricatures and market products to a certain segment can touch racial lines, and this is a blatant case of such racism. It is clearly not the only case as well.
Some netizens have also expressed their views on the make-up being ‘scary’ and considered the model holding a whip as ‘disturbing’. A number of brands have been using the ‘Asian face’ stereotype to market their products. Apart from Gucci and Mercedes, the snack retailer Three Squirrels used the same stereotype in a caricature based advertisement.
Both Gucci and Mercedes have taken down their advertisements as of now. However, netizens have claimed that this is not a political trial of any sort. Rather, it should be viewed as a method of reminding the western world that such caricatures of races will no longer go unnoticed. Western brands definitely have a responsibility to present their products without hurting racial sentiments.