Ads draw attention in China to Asian stereotypes

Ads featuring some Chinese models have sparked feuds in China over whether their looks and makeup perpetuate Asian stereotypes

German automaker Mercedes-Benz and a Chinese food company are the latest to be caught in the fray.

Some Chinese consumers have complained after local snack brand Three Squirrels posted ads for noodle products on its Weibo microblogging account showing a Chinese model with eyes they said appeared to be tilted. Critics accused the company of propagating Western stereotypes.

Mercedes Benz has also been attacked by Chinese netizens who accused it of using a “slant-eyed” model in its ads on Weibo. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The stereotype of “slanted eyes” appeared in the West in the 19th century and is considered offensive and disparaging to Asians.

The latest backlash on the ads followed one on luxury brand Dior, which apologized and removed a photo at an art show showing an Asian model with freckles and very dark makeup holding a Dior handbag. In response to criticism in China, the company said it “respects the feelings of the Chinese people.”

Three Squirrels said in an article on their official Weibo account on Saturday that they did not intend to portray a Chinese in a bad light. The ad was shot in 2019, the company said in a statement. The model is Chinese and the makeup style was designed to suit her natural characteristics, he said.

“In response to customer comments that the model’s makeup did not meet publicly accepted aesthetic standards and caused discomfort, our company apologizes,” the statement said.

“The page has been replaced and arrangements have been made to check other company pages to ensure this does not happen again.”

Chinese netizens online criticized the selection of models and makeup styles for deliberately portraying the image of “slanted eyes.”

One user with the MaoBuErXiong grip said that such images of slanted eyes are derogatory and deeply entrenched in the fashion industry, with Asian models and their makeup styles often being selected to fit a stereotype.

The model featured in the Three Squirrels advertisements spoke out against the critics.

“Just because my eyes are small, am I not good enough to be Chinese?” I don’t know what to say to these comments… I’m really helpless, ”the model said in a Weibo article under the pseudonym Cai Niangniang.

“As a professional model, what I have to do is be photographed according to what the client wants, I don’t know how it has become for me to humiliate the Chinese people,” she said. declared.

Communist party newspaper Global Times said Cai’s response attracted more than 330 million views.

“I hope that Internet users will stop sending me personal attack messages. I’m not a model or a public figure, I’m just someone who loves my homeland and a law-abiding citizen.

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