Victora’s Secret is removing clothes but not in a good way. The company’s website has taken down its new “Go East” collection, which featured Eastern-inspired lingerie. The decision was made in response to complaints of racial stereotyping, specifically in regards to a Caucasian model (Candice Swanepoel) dressed as a “Sexy Little Geisha” which consists of floral pattern lingerie with obi belt and bow, oriental fan, and hair chopsticks.
Mimi Nguyen, associate professor of women’s and Asian American studies at the University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign and cofounder with Minh-Ha Pham of the Threadbared fashion blog, takes issue with the models, who are non-Asian.
“Asians can’t wear things like the ‘sexy little geisha’ outfit without looking ridiculous,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “But it’s a way for white women to borrow a racially exotic edge for a moment’s play.”
However, every country has instantly recognizable fashions that are used for cosplay and roleplay. This includes the uniquely American Cowboy and Cowgirl costume popular with Japanese models known as gravure idols. Asian cowgirls have most notably been in used in the Oneechanbara movie and video game. Of course, the PC police will say (with a straight face) it’s not the same thing (institutionalized racism etc.).
Rather than going after a flattering outfit that at worst portrays Asian women as desirable, why not focus on real racism that’s designed to be insulting like an Asian Halloween mask. The Fee Ling Yu Mask has extremely exaggerated stereotypical features such as slanted eyes and buck teeth. The product description even recommends accessorizing with Nerd Glasses. Perhaps these thick glasses could help critics see the difference between fantasy and farce.