Vogue magazine has been accused of “uglifying” Chinese people after posting an Instagram photo of a model who challenges conventional beauty standards with her unique facial features.
The controversy comes less than a month after Zara was accused of the same, having used another Chinese model with freckles on her face. In the post on Sunday, Vogue described 20-year-old Gao Qizhen as a model who “brings a kind of singular appeal.”
“The Shanghai-born textile-design student at the London College of Fashion, wound up in front of the camera by happenstance,” the magazine wrote. “She was scouted in the campus canteen on her lunch break. One of the photographers who spotted her was assisting at the London-based Anti-Agency (which prides itself on its iconoclastic taste), and it turned out to be the right match.”
With wide-set eyes, fine eyebrows, a flat nose bridge and a distinctive mole at the top, Gao sees her physical appearance apart from most models.
She herself acknowledged her unconventional looks in the accompanying interview, saying, “Anti is a word that applies perhaps as a negative thing in some fields, but in terms of fashion and modeling I think it challenges the norms of beauty and looks.”
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
Gao’s profile immediately triggered a debate among Instagram users, some of whom accused Vogue of racism and “uglifying” Chinese people.
Some simply slammed Gao’s looks.
However, some defended the magazine and praised its celebration of diversity.
Others appreciated Gao’s looks.
Vogue has not released an official statement in response to the controversy, but an employee who requested to be anonymous told the Global Times that the magazine may have only intended to celebrate Chinese culture.
“Vogue probably intended to highlight the oriental features by using the model. But I personally think it is a spread on Chinese culture, as her makeup is quite in the Chinese style.”