French luxury fashion house Dior has found itself embroiled in yet another marketing controversy in China. Their latest promotional photo featuring an Asian model has sparked accusations of racial discrimination, as the model is seen pulling the corners of her eyes upward in a manner that many are calling out as slanting her eyes.
The photo, which was intended to showcase Dior’s new leopard-themed makeup collection, has caused an uproar on social media, with netizens slamming the brand for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
Once posted, the image went viral on Chinese social media. On Weibo, the hashtag “Dior makeup advertisement suspected of discriminating against Asians” has amassed over 37.132 million views as of April 17, 2023.
Given the huge wave of online backlash, Dior quickly removed the image from its carousel post on Instagram. However, the backlash continued to mount as a large number of netizens continued to comment on the original post (which is still up), expressing their anger and disappointment. While some netizens have defended the action, stating that it is a normal display technique to showcase eye makeup, most believe that the gesture was intentional.
“You have been through this racist scandal before, why [do] you have to do it again?” one commenter wrote. “If you are thinking about using these racist pictures to increase your brand exposure in [the] Asian market, I am really disappointed. You are what, white privileged marketing team?”
This is not the first time that Dior has faced controversy over racially insensitive content. Back in November 2021, the brand was criticised for a photo featuring a model with “spooky” eyelids and dark skin dressed in traditional Chinese clothing and holding a Dior bag, an image accused of smearing the image of Chinese women. In July 2022, Dior was called out for cultural appropriation and plagiarism of the traditional Chinese Mamian skirt and failed to publicly acknowledge the issue. Later, the brand was also criticised for using Chinese flower and bird prints on its official website.
From a marketing perspective, Dior’s recent promotional photo featuring an Asian model pulling the corners of her eyes upward has been viewed by many as intentional as a deliberate attempt to draw attention to the brand and increase its exposure in the Asian market. Regardless of the intention, however, the controversy has once again highlighted the importance of cultural sensitivity in the fashion industry and the need for brands to be more mindful of the messages they send through their marketing campaigns.