China Dior
Women wearing masks walk past an ad for Dior at a mall in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. A renowned Chinese fashion photographer has apologized for her past work after online critics called it insulting to the Chinese people and fashion house Dior removed one of her photos from a show in Shanghai. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Chinese fashion photographer in Dior controversy apologizes

13 Comments

A renowned Chinese fashion photographer has apologized for her past work after online critics called it insulting to the Chinese people and fashion house Dior removed one of her photos from a show in Shanghai.

Chen Man acknowledged the criticism of her earlier work, including “Young Pioneers,” a series of images of a young model with backdrops of major landmarks such as China's massive Three Gorges Dam or with an image of the country's first lunar orbiter flying out from under her dress.

The criticism was reported by the state-owned Global Times newspaper, which said that comments on social media had called her work “implicit child pornography and insulting the young pioneers,” the name of a Communist Party-affiliated youth organization.

“I have reflected deeply and blamed myself for my naivety and ignorance at the time. I think that I must still formally apologize to everyone,” Chen wrote this week on her social media account.

“I’m a Chinese person, born and raised, I deeply love my motherland," she wrote. “And I know, deeply, that as an artist, I have a responsibility to the mission to record and spread the Chinese people’s culture.”

She joins numerous Chinese and foreign celebrities, brands and artists who have made public apologies following criticism of their work in state media. Some have been boycotted for refusing to apologize or if the apology is deemed insufficient.

Chen's apology came more than a week after Dior was attacked over the photo at its exhibition in Shanghai, which pictured a model of Asian descent with tan, freckled skin and darkened eyelids holding a Dior purse.

Critics deemed the photograph contrary to East Asian beauty standards of fair skin and said it perpetuated Western stereotypes of Asian faces, such as slanted eyes.

At least one photo editor has praised her work in the past for creating an aesthetic that was neither aping Western magazines or Japanese and South Korean ones. And in 2019, the Global Times described Chen as China's answer to U.S. photographer Annie Leibovitz, calling her a "shining star” with a unique perspective.

Dior removed the photograph, adding that it was part of an art project and not an advertisement. In a statement on its Chinese social media account, Dior said it “respects the feelings of Chinese people” and “strictly abides by Chinese laws and regulations.”

Other luxury brands have previously been embroiled in controversies in China. In 2018, a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement sparked public outrage after the Asian model in the ad was instructed to eat spaghetti, cannolis and pizza with a pair of chopsticks. The videos were later removed.

Chen's social media post said she accepted criticism of her work including that for a certain brand, but didn't specify Dior.

The photograph taken down from the Shanghai exhibit was shot in a similar style to a series of covers Chen did for British fashion magazine i-D that featured 12 young Chinese women from different ethnic minorities. Many of the women did not fit what has become a common definition of beauty in China — some had small eyes and others had freckles.

Ding Yining, a photo editor at Sixth Tone, praised Chen's work in a 2018 article for the state-backed English-language features website.

“From her works, it would seem that Chen prefers female models with narrow, single-lidded eyes and a sense of traditional East Asian elegance,” Ding wrote.

Chen told Sixth Tone that “as a professional visual artist, I believe that I should help more people recognize the face of modern Chinese beauty with greater confidence.”

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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Obviously, the CCP prepared her statement as it did recently with the purported Peng Shuai statements. Pretty spooky.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Can we see the pic or is it censored here too ?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The bureaucratic editors of a government mouthpiece freely enjoy pulling down and bullying megastars. What a bitter-sweet sense of omnipotence. In Europe they might have chopped her head off a few centuries ago.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thuggery. When a government starts coming after its fashion photographers, you know that breathing space is getting pretty tight.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You know that an authoritarian regime is feeling the heat when they get angry at fashion photographers. This thin-skinned nature of the CPC over what they perceive as threats to Chinese 'dignity' is growing worse than it was under Mao. There is an entire internet for them to police, which makes it impossible.

I wonder how many thousands of censors the CPC has working for it...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fortunately, the United States has a First Amendment that forbids the government from punishing people for "offensive" writing and thought crimes.

Unfortunately, the United States has a leftist media that pursues a cancel culture that punishes anyone expressing their opinions.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

RegBilkToday  12:50 pm JST

Fortunately, the United States has a First Amendment that forbids the government from punishing people for "offensive" writing

This is inaccurate unless you want to define “offensive.”

Defamation is not protected speech, but is offensive.

Obscenity is not protected speech, but is offensive.

Fighting words are not protected speech, but are offensive.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

P. SmithToday  01:36 pm JST

This is inaccurate unless you want to define “offensive.”

Defamation is not protected speech, but is offensive.

Obscenity is not protected speech, but is offensive.

Fighting words are not protected speech, but are offensive.

This is inaccurate unless you want to define “offensive.”

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

RegBilkToday  01:40 pm JST

This is inaccurate unless you want to define “offensive.”

Nope. You claim to have a bar number, you should be able to do the research yourself to discover the error you made.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

P. SmithToday  01:51 pm JST

Nope. You claim to have a bar number, you should be able to do the research yourself to discover the error you made.

Oh, I see. You got confused.

Read my original post and you will discover the error in thought you made.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Can we see the pic or is it censored here too ?

One of the pics is here:

https://supchina.com/2021/11/23/chinese-fashion-photographer-chen-man-apologizes-for-past-unthoughtful-work-amid-dior-controversy/

I don't see the big deal...

Oh, and here's another one:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/andre_erdan/14954730086

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Chen Man acknowledged the criticism of her earlier work, including “Young Pioneers,” a series of images of a young model with backdrops of major landmarks such as China's massive Three Gorges Dam or with an image of the country's first lunar orbiter flying out from under her dress

Incredible that a government can punish its people for expressing their thoughts in a form of speech.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It isn’t too shocking that countries that have no protections for speech in place can punish its people.

Is anything China does to its people shocking to anyone anymore?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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