HONG KONG A Chinese fashion photographer apologized after the backlash she did for French luxury brand Dior.
The photo showed a tanned, freckled Asian-born model wearing traditional Chinese clothing while holding a black Lady Dior bag. He has been criticized for perpetuating Western stereotypes about East Asian faces and for failing to represent beauty standards in the region, which generally favor clearer skin and big eyes.
The photo was removed from display at a Dior fashion exhibition in Shanghai following the controversy.
Chen Man acknowledged the criticism of the photo as well as some of his earlier work.
I thought deeply and blamed myself for my naivety and ignorance at the time. I think I still have to formally apologize to everyone, Chen said as she addressed her social media followers earlier this week.
I am Chinese, born and raised, and I love our country deeply, she added in the post, which drew reactions from thousands of users.
“I know that as an artist, I take responsibility for documenting and presenting Chinese culture through my work. I will study history more and attend more relevant events to strengthen my ideologies.
His apology follows strong criticism from some netizens on Weibo, a social media platform in China similar to Twitter.
Many users expressed their anger at what they saw as a high-profile visual representation of Chinese women who adopted beauty standards from different cultures.
Why do you want to maliciously distort and defame China? This is because the fashion circle is dominated by Westerners, one user said, referring to the idea that the Western lens promotes a traditional view of Chinese women that differs from local representations of beauty.
Chen, the photographer, is well regarded.
In 2019, the Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party, described her as China’s response to American photographer Annie Leibovitz, calling her a shining star with a unique perspective.
But she is no stranger to controversy either. She had already made headlines in 2012, when social media users also challenged her portrayals of different Chinese ethnic minorities for British fashion magazine iD.
China offers a huge market for luxury brands and could become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025, by some estimates. But, while lucrative, it also presents challenges for Western businesses.
Dior pointed out that Chen’s photograph was part of an art project for the company and not part of a Dior commercial advertisement.
Dior always respects the feelings of the Chinese people while strictly complying with Chinese law and regulations, the French brand said on Wednesday in a statement posted on its Chinese social media account. If any errors do occur, we will receive the feedback and take immediate action to correct them, he said. Dior is steadfastly loyal to Chinese consumers and society.
NBC News has reached out to Dior for comment.
This is not the first time that Diors has been in the hot seat when it comes to China.
In 2019, an employee during a corporate recruitment event used a country map it did not include Taiwan. China considers the autonomous island to be part of its territory, but Taiwan has repeatedly rejected this notion.
And Dior is not the only Western brand to face such problems. Earlier this year, several fashion companies, including H&M, Nike and Burberry, faced backlash on social media and even boycotts for their stance on cotton produced in Xinjiang, home to the Uyghur Muslim minority of the country.
Meanwhile, in 2018, Dolce & Gabbana sparked outrage with an ad featuring an Asian model tasked with eating Italian food like spaghetti and pizza with a pair of chopsticks. The videos were then deleted.
Associated press contributed.
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