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Vogue Pisses Off the Asian Community By Featuring a White Model in Yellowface

After having white models sport blackface in the past, Vogue appears to have committed another racial faux pas. For their latest issue, the magazine is “celebrating diversity” by featuring a Caucasian female in “yellowface” dressed as a Japanese Geisha.

American supermodel Karlie Kloss got a huge Asian “makeover” for Vogue magazine’s March issue via a photo spread with an accompanying article titled, “Spirited Away”.

In the issue, shot on location in Japan’s Ise-Shima National Park, Kloss’ skin was made to look more pale than usual while her originally blonde hair was turned black and done in the shimada hairstyle. She was dressed in various Japanese-style wardrobe.

According to Vogue’s promotional blog, the upcoming issue, which features a cast of multiracial and body-positive models, was intended as a celebration of diversity and inclusion.

However, Kloss’ leaked photos, reportedly captured by Mikael Jansson with styling by Phyllis Posnick, seemed to suggest otherwise.

When the images surfaced online, the magazine and the model were heavily criticized on social media for the spread’s cultural insensitivity.

Many were quick to point out the absurdity of the concept, citing the photoshoot’s apparent cultural appropriation.

University of Hawaii professor of women’s studies and an affiliate of the Center for Japanese Studies Mire Koikari noted that the images raise some serious questions on racism.


It strikes me as an example of ‘Asian face’ or ‘Yellow Face,’ a problematic practice long existent in the history of racism in the U.S., where white men and women alter their facial features to ‘pass’ as ‘Orientals,’” Koikari told The Huffington Post.

“The images also recirculate the overly sexualized understandings of ‘Asian women.’” she explained.

Karlie Kloss addressed the issue via an apology posted on Twitter on Wednesday:

“These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive.”


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