Zara is the latest fashion brand to be labelled racist by Chinese Internet users after its ad was accused of ‘uglifying China’.
The ad, which was posted on Zara’s Weibo account, featured Chinese model Li Jingwen and was promoting a new lipstick range by the Spanish fashion retailer. The ad depicted Jingwen with her freckles showing and minimal make-up in a move with angered Chinese followers.
Critics have labeled the ad humiliating to Chinese women and claim the brand is defaming Chinese beauty. Chinese women favour clear pale skin as a beauty look and most beauty advertising reinforces this look.
Angry users drew comparisons with the recent social media scandal after luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana released a video featuring a Chinese woman eating Italian food with chopsticks.
The brand was engulfed by backlash with the ad branded racist, however, the situation worsened dramatically when derogatory comments from D&G designer Stefano Gabbana were released online. The brand’s products were dropped from all of China’s major e-commerce platforms and despite an apology it is still struggling to win back customers.
A Zara spokeswoman told Chinese internet news portal Sina.com there was no intention to offend or to make the model look ugly, rather the fashion brand liked to depict models as they naturally look.