Victoria’s Secret is in hot water today after their new “Sexy Little Geisha” outfit causes a stir. The outfit is part of VS’s “Go East” collection, an “Eastern-inspired” floral print fabric plus a removable obi belt. The model poses with a matching fan and chopsticks, which Candice Swanepoel models. Victoria’s Secret claims the outfit is “your ticket to an exotic adventure”.
The negative reactions began several weeks ago. On Racialicious, Nina Jacinto took Victoria’s Secret to task for essentializing Asian identity and reducing “Eastern” culture to a stereotype of exotic sexuality. “It’s a narrative that says the culture can be completely stripped of its realness in order to fulfill our fantasies of a safe and non-threatening, mysterious East,” she argues. Done at the corporate level, “it’s a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation and humanization of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women.”
The Frisky concurred: “Considering the complicated history of geishas, repurposing the [geisha] ‘look’ for a major corporation to sell as role-playing lingerie seems a bit tasteless.”
Victoria’s Secret has responded to the protests, if only tacitly: type in the URL for the Sexy Little Geisha product page and it redirects you to VictoriasSecret.com. In fact all the product pages for the “Go East” collection, including the Printed Chiffon Robe we highlighted last month, now simply redirect to the Victoria’s Secret homepage.
What do you think? Does the outfit seem inappropriate to you?