After a photograph taken for French luxury brand Dior caused a stir, a Chinese fashion photographer apologized for her ignorance.
A photo of a woman from the Chen Man series sparked outrage among Chinese netizens, who claimed she upholds negative Western perceptions of Asian faces.
“I am responsible for my immaturity and insensitivity in previous works,” wrote Ms. Chen, 41, on the social media site Weibo. Dior said the image, which was recently shown at a Shanghai event, has been removed now.
Dior, as usual, respects the feelings of Chinese people. If any errors are made, [Dior] must be receptive to feedback and correct them in a timely manner,” the fashion brand stated in its Weibo feed that the project was an artwork rather than a commercial advertisement.
The photograph was first exhibited on November 12, but it immediately prompted a controversy among netizens and then local media.
In China, fair skin with large eyes is generally thought to be the most attractive feature, and advertisements featuring models with these characteristics are more common. In contrast, a Beijing Daily editorial described the Dior image’s model as having a “gloomy face” and “frightening eyes.”
The editorial stated: “For years, Asian women have had small eyes and freckles from a Western perspective. The photographer is pandering to the brands or western culture’s aesthetic preferences.”
Chinese internet users voiced their agreement, calling the photos “insulting” and an “insulting” representation of what Westerners believe Chinese women to look like.
“This is how the Western world sees us,” wrote one Weibo user, referring to Chen Man’s appearance. Many said that they would avoid Louis Vuitton in light of his look.
Meanwhile, a China Women’s News editorial blasted the ad for making people “uncomfortable,” noting that the image of the model with “swollen single eyelids” made them feel “uneasy.”
The image has been compared to a photo series taken by Ms. Chen in 2012 for the i-D Magazine, which she had collaborated on with US Vogue’s artistic director Carine Roitfeld.
Some Chinese Internet users noted that the photograph reminded them of Ms. Chen’s 2012 photographic series for i-D Magazine, which she had produced.
But not everyone agreed. One Weibo user commented, “Why can’t a Chinese woman with small eyes be considered attractive? I don’t see any issues with it.”
On Wednesday, Ms. Chen said that she had “reflectively” thought about it and felt compelled to offer an apology after examining negative remarks about her work.
“I’m from China. I adore my nation deeply. As an artist, I’m conscious of my duty to document Chinese culture and present Chinese beauty through my work,” she added.
“I will learn more about Chinese history, attend more relevant activities, and grow my views… I’ll make an effort to tell China’s narrative correctly in my work.”
Ms. Chen is a well-known photographer in the Chinese fashion industry. She has worked with top publications like Vogue and Elle, as well as celebrities David Beckham and Fan Bingbing.