“Sexy Little Geisha” may be the most controversial outfit ever produced by Victoria’s Secret, a lingerie giant that often receives criticism for its models’ extremely thin figures and sexualized image of women.
In response to the backlash toward an Eastern-inspired lingerie piece titled “Sexy Little Geisha,” Victoria’s Secret has pulled down “Go East,” a newly launched lingerie collection from its website, altogether.
Modeled by Swedish supermodel Candice Swanepoel, “Sexy Little Geisha” is a cut-out sheer mesh teddy with some prints inspired by Japanese traditional fabrics, dubbed by the company as "your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there's one for every sexy you."
Due to its senseless reduction Asian culture down to a mere exotic sexuality, “Sexy Little Geisha” inevitably received criticism for being racist.
“A troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women,” Racialicious criticized of “Sexy Little Geisha.”
“There’s a long-standing trend to represent Asian women as hypersexualized objects of fantasy, so it’s telling that none of the models wearing the Go East collection appear to be Asian.”
'Sex and sexuality don’t live in a bubble. They intersect with our historical and cultural contexts.
'Donning a "sexy Geisha" outfit to get the ball rolling in the bedroom remains offensive because it confirms a paradigm in which Asian people and their culture can be modified and sexualized and appropriated for the benefit of the West. This particular kind of racism has existed for a long time, and we’re far from moving beyond it,” the website concludes.
“Considering the complicated history of geishas, repurposing the [geisha] 'look' for a major corporation to sell as role-playing lingerie seems a bit tasteless,” says The Frisky, a culture site targeted at women.
Geishas in Japan were professionally trained entertainers mostly targeted at male customers. They have been often misunderstood by non-Japanese as prostitutes.
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