Models describe anti-Asian racism in the fashion industry


Over the past year, there have been a wave of stories about anti-Asian racism and violence in the United States, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. But that’s not a problem with just one source – while the pandemic has seen an increase in reports of anti-Asian racism, it’s a form of violence that Asian Americans from all walks of life have suffered for. for many years, on the streets, in social settings, and in the workplace. This is also true for Asians in the modeling industry.

While many role models face adversity at work (e.g. pressure to be a certain size, sexual harassment, financial exploitation, and no regulations regarding labor protection), Asian models face unique challenges. Asian models have claimed to have experienced a plethora of anti-Asian actions at work, but fashion industry has not yet sufficiently addressed the problem. Cultural appropriation, sexual harassment, symbolism, racism and the yellow face are just a few of the ways Asian models have reported experiencing anti-Asian hatred, violence and oppression at work.

Even if more and more successful asian models hit the track and work for the grown-ups brands like Victoria’s Secret, racism and discrimination did not weaken. And, the growing (though still under-represented) presence of Asians in the modeling industry is unlikely to be quite to stop micro-attacks or hatred at work.

Vogue teens spoke with Asian models to examine how anti-Asian hatred manifests itself in the fashion industry.

“There is a double standard in the castings. I’m a petite Asian model with curves and because of that I’m considered a porn star “, says Fiffany luu, a New York-based freelance model who has appeared in campaigns for Fenty by Rihanna, Pat McGrath Labs and Identity magazine. Meanwhile, white models with big breasts are seen as sexy and desirable, she says. In a Instagram post, Luu quotes White Sexual Imperialism: A Theory of Asian Feminist Jurisprudence, a 2008 article by lawyer Sunny Woan, to illustrate that the hypersexualized stereotype of Asian women is rooted in Western imperialism in Asia. She posted this after the murder of six Asian women in three Atlanta subway spas March 16. “I would bring [this topic] every now and then online but it seems like no one really cares or really knows what I was talking about. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something tragic to get people to start listening.

In her day-to-day life, Luu says she often thought she was too sensitive when she suffered micro-attacks, but when she noticed that other Asian models were receiving the same treatment, she had it. understood as a model of racism. Luu recalls a photoshoot for a major beauty brand where the photographer called him and other Asian models on set, “hi-yah! », A Japanese term used in the practice of karate. Although the micro-attacks that Luu and other Asian Americans face on a daily basis are often overlooked, they to contribute to general anti-Asian racism that can lead to hate crimes – and that’s hard to deal with.

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