Karlie Kloss apologizes for ‘dressing up’ like a Japanese geisha for Vogue

The Fashion Awards 2016

Last week, Vogue dropped their March cover. March used to be The Power Issue, do you remember that? Or was it The Shape Issue? Something like that. But nowadays, Vogue’s March issue is being called The Diversity Issue. The cover featured several models of color, including Liu Wen, Ashley Graham, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, and Vittoria Ceretti. While I found the cover bland as hell, I gave a slow clap to Anna Wintour for at least doing the bare minimum for racial inclusion/diversity.

But I’m going to have to take back my slow clap. The March issue of Vogue features a six-page editorial with Karlie Kloss, one of Wintour’s favorite models. The issue is not that Kloss got another major Vogue editorial. The issue isn’t even that The Diversity Issue only gave models of color like Imaan Hammam and Liu Wen one photo each while giving Bland Becky Karlie Kloss a six-page editorial. No, the issue is that Vogue dressed up Karlie like a Japanese geisha. Because why not? WHY NOT DO YELLOWFACE?

I first saw the story yesterday, and I suspect that’s because people got their hands on the actual magazine (as opposed to this editorial being featured online, which it is not). That’s when all hell broke loose and people started yelling at Vogue and Karlie Kloss online. Late last night/early this morning, Karlie issued this statement:

While I appreciate her apology, this is not merely an issue of “cultural sensitivity.” This is racist. Use the right word. It’s racist when a white person does blackface, and it’s racist when a white person pretends to be Japanese. I don’t believe that Kloss should be the only one getting slammed for this – she went along with a sh-tty editorial concept and shame on her. But Jesus Christ, Vogue. STOP.

American Music Awards 2016 Arrivals

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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136 Responses to “Karlie Kloss apologizes for ‘dressing up’ like a Japanese geisha for Vogue”

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  1. lyla says:

    I can’t imagine how in 2017, this got through and was published. Think of all the people it had to go through at Vogue and everyone just okayed yellow-faced? smh.

    • Jag says:

      Exactly! They knew what they were doing and no one there cared.

    • Mel says:

      THIS.
      2017 people!!!
      Or actually, 2017 might be the explanation, given that we mourned plenty of people in 2016 but so far the loss for this year seems to be rationality and common sense…
      I have to say though, the apology was not bad, as far as apologies go…
      Now let’s work on not doing it again!!

    • QueenB says:

      at this point they are doing it on purpose, no excuses.

    • QQ says:

      This is what happens when you dont have a single ass Brown Person in the room to Call Out the Bullshit, I bet they thought this is delicate Rapturous and STUNNING!… F*cking Idiots… Its 2017 and its still the time we gotta remind EVERY year to white People that Ethnicities are not costumes, that Blackface Isn’t f**cking funny and that its disgusting to parade around in shitty Polyester talking about you are a Cherokee princess in the same ass place where we have Water protestors Fighting for their f*cking Land… I’m tired of this and I’m tired of this Bland Pinchy Plain Faced True Soul Sister of that Taylor Swift Fake Feminist chippy.. This only serves to make me think them Bean Pole Pasty witches are indeed true friends and that A Karlie Kloss is indistinguishable of her soon to be In laws

    • Jaded says:

      Yep and it was just as tone deaf when nicki minaj and rihanna did it for music videos.

      • happinessinme says:

        I just wanted to say that I agree with you. What happened in that magazine, inappropriate, but we have had black and asian celebrities do the same.It may be best to call out the entertainment industry as a whole. Even Monday, I posted a comment where i praised and criticized both Adele and Beyonce, and another commenter came after me calling me a “B**ky”. Thing is, I am a POC.

      • Emmy says:

        On principle, sure, no one should appropriate a culture. But context is important and white folks are the ones with a bloody history of cultural colonialism and flat out erasure. It might have been insensitive for Nicki and Rhianna to use Japanese costumes and imagery, but the actions of Karlie and Vogue, as a white woman and a mostly white publication staff, were wholly racist. So the fallout is obviously going to be more significant, taking into account the historical precedent.

  2. milla says:

    Karlie is not to blame. She did her job. What about fashion editor and editor in chief? They should know what is appropriate and why.

  3. Mikasa says:

    How about hiring a Japanese model if you really want to do this theme, Vogue?

    • HK9 says:

      This. I believe the editors at Vogue should have gotten a Japanese model for this if this is the editorial they wanted to do. It’s not hard and I have no idea why they just can’t get it together.

    • Cinderella says:

      It would be so easy, but not for the dumba$$es at Vogue that put this together. They must like keeping the pot stirred.

    • Ryllis says:

      As a Japanese-born, I was most definitely offended when Hollywood cast Chinese women in the lead roles for that film Geisha. Because there are Japanese actors who can speak OK English. Similarly I get annoyed when I see non-Japanese wearing kimonos the wrong way (like we would never open the back of our collars too much, because showing too much back is a sign of being a geisha, or if people tuck the left side inside, because that means you are dead). It’s all a matter of understanding our culture and respecting it.

      Am I offended by this particular shoot? Yes, because Japanese-inspired doesn’t mean you go over there and impose your weird version of “cool Geisha” by disrespecting us. We have much more than geishas as role models for women. If they did a little bit of research, they would have discovered some women were ninjas, which is way more empowering than a sex slave, thank you very much.

      • TheOtherOne says:

        ITA. As a POC, we are always romanticized as subservient characters. The dutiful maid, the bashful geisha, etc. Like Ryllis, we are ninjas, business owners, artists, advocates. Find a new effing narrative and a new hero – namely a woman and POC with a voice.

  4. Mike says:

    She apologized but still got the spread. Hardly feeling sorry if you still take the benefits

  5. grabbyhands says:

    But Jesus Christ, Vogue. STOP.

    RIGHT??? It is 2017 for the love of god. Knowing this is a crappy idea isn’t new. Karlie Kloss knows better and so does Vogue and any apologies for their quaint racism are just so much saving face at this point.

    Just stop doing it and everyone involved will have to waste less time with insta apologies that they don’t mean in the future.

  6. carann says:

    Honest question… is it OK for Gwen Stefani to have her Harajuku girls? It seemed wrong to me at the time, but no one else seemed to care. Please guide me ..

    • ell says:

      it’s not, lots of people mention it now. 10 years ago people weren’t talking about these issues as much as now, and that’s why she got away.

    • mkyarwood says:

      It’s not. I cared. Stopped listening to her immediately.

    • V4Real says:

      Tara Banks had Black models faces altered to look White, White models faces altered to look Black and Asian on an episode of ANTM and no one complained. She also had an episode where models were dressed as Harajuki girls and an episode where they dressed as Geishas.

      It’s culturally inappropriate for people who are not Native Americans to wear Native headdress but every Pow Wow or Native American festival I’ve been to the Native Americans are selling them to anyone who wants to buy them. People may buy them as souvenirs but some might actually put them on .

      • aang says:

        Also, Native American is not a culture. There are 100′s of different tribes and languages. So the pow wow culture we see is a post colonial homogenization. Natives from eastern woodlands tribes and natives from the south west are appropriating the dress of plains indians. As a native american I find the whole appropriation thing kind of weird. Every day dress, or non religious formal wear of any culture seems like it should be ok to share across cultures. It is the appropriation of religious wear or ceremonies for secular use that gets sketchy, even when the religion being appropriated for fashion is Christianity. I felt Beyonce dressing like the Virgin Mary was offensive and out of bounds. Is it ok for white or other non Indian people to do yoga? Is it ok for Japanese or hispanic people to enjoy hip-hop culture? I say yes. We need to celebrate other cultures, and that is what I see here.

      • kay says:

        v4real: are you serious about headdresses being sold at powwows? because i have gone to powwows and never once seen headdresses for sale, fake or otherwise.
        not sure if this is a cross border phenomena or what?

      • okso says:

        aang

        Beyonce wasn’t dressed as the Virgin Mary, btw

        She was dressed (as she was in Lemonade) as Oshun.

      • WTW says:

        @V4Real, I’ve been to several pow wows, and I don’t recall seeing headdresses. Maybe dreamcatchers. Usually, I see jewelry, pottery, art, not headdresses. Headdresses are worn by spiritual leaders in the Native community. Imagine someone wearing a nun’s habit or priest’s collar because they thought it looked cool. That’s what it’s like when anyone who’s not a Native religious leader wears the headdress.

    • Adrien says:

      Psst! One of Gwen’s Harajuku girls is a friend and was once my sister’s roommate. She was actually proud of her job and doesn’t feel appropriated at all. She enjoyed touring with Gwen. I can understand where she is coming from. She is an Asian and she can only get jobs where she is fetishized or be an accesory to a white person. LAMB era Gwen was during the Myspace age, when things like these were accepted and the phrase “cultural appropriation” was never heard of. Madonna did the same geisha thing before that.

    • dotdotdot says:

      Not okay, people of color are not accessory to white people.

    • WTW says:

      Um, people did care. Margaret Cho in particular called Gwen out for appropriating Harajuku culture and having silent Asian women standing behind her during performances. I think an Asian American journalist also called her out at the time, but I forget the writer’s name.

  7. Phily says:

    I guess I don’t really see the HUGE deal? Like they aren’t making fun of that culture, I just don’t really see why it’s that big of a deal to take these pictures. People wear dirndls and lederhosen all the time and it’s not concerned appropriation and inappropriate for thousands of people to do every October. They are taking a beautiful culture and taking beautiful pictures here. Would it have been better if it was a Japanese model or would that be inappropriate too because you are making her a stereotype of her nationality.

    It just seems like you can’t do anything nowadays without someone being super offended. Just like I don’t understand why “ballerinas” were super offended when Kendall dressed as one for a shoot.

    • TheSageM says:

      I don’t quite get it either, I have to say. Also, if i am not mistaken, there have been a few caucasian Geisha.

    • mkyarwood says:

      So, are you Asian? If not, ‘spose you can’t speak to why this is a big deal. Do you know the history of Geisha?

    • Lena says:

      That’s not a good comparison. It’s also not considered inappropriate for white people to w at a kimono to a traditional Japanese wedding. However, this is something else. They even died her hair black or made her wear a wig. German people are also not underrepresented in the fashion industry.

    • tegteg says:

      I think it is a big deal, however I do NOT think it is racist. It is just cultural appropriation. I think a lot of people who throw the word racist around do not know what it means – “showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another.” I do not believe there is any racism in this – unless the Vogue editors chose the shoot idea and then purposefully did not choose an Asian model because they think they’re lesser.

      • Tobbs says:

        I agree. I’m a bit bothered by the fact that people seem so confused about the meaning of the word. Cultural appropriation is wrong in it’s own right, no need to include the term racism to prove it. Words have more power when used correctly imo.

    • Mel says:

      sigh…
      ok, let’s start over.
      Let’s transpose it to a concept that maybe would be more understandable, like, really, basic.
      Imagine, they do a “blondes only” cover (don’t laugh everyone, I know, unthinkable, right?!)
      You think “wow, I’m blonde maybe now could be my time to shine or just be seen, you know?”
      and then, in comes a brunette model with a wig! She steals the gig from you!
      Do you see where I’m getting with this?
      Japan, just like any other country in the world, has plenty of beautiful women, some of them, I assume, are professional models even.
      Why not get one?
      I get what you are saying about being turned into a cliché. That is also the responsibility of the creative and artistic people to see if “diversity” necessarily means “country-emoji style”.
      I do believe that you CAN do a diversity issue with diversity in jeans and t-shirts, though one might argue, it would mean “westernizing”. How about you cast the right model and then have a conversation with her to see how she feels how it?
      The dialogue can go on and on, but at this point, the casting issue is a no-brainer!
      I’m French. Do I think it’s crazy that “Les Misérables” is in English and Anne Hathaway played a woman named “Fantine”? Heck, yeah! It’s very disturbing to me to see Victor Hugo being spoken with an American accent.
      It is what it is. I won’t complain because I’m really not one of the most oppressed people on this planet.

    • lyla says:

      but when have Germans been marginalized? And during Octoberfest are people putting in blonde wigs and popping in blue contacts to go with that drindl?

    • Maria says:

      why don’t you read this article. She explains it better than i could.

      http://www.laineygossip.com/Karlie-Kloss-apologises-for-racially-insensitive-geisha-photo-shoot-for-Vogues-diversity-issue/46267

      ‘A lot of words have already been written by a lot of people about how offensive this is, including Angry Asian Man who asked, “What is so creative about a white lady in yellowface, standing in front of the usual traditional Japanese sh-t?”
      That’s exactly it. But for the people behind this shoot, that is precisely why this is exciting. It is more exciting, more interesting, more “cool” to see a white all-American woman showcasing Japanese culture than it is for an actual Japanese woman to be showcasing Japanese culture. A Japanese woman looking Japanese? BORING.
      Karlie Kloss looking Japanese?
      ART!’

    • WTW says:

      @Phily, the problem is that people/cultures are not costumes. It is offensive to dress up as a person of color period. There’s also been a long history of whites playing Asians, from Mickey Rooney dressing up as the buck-toothed stereotypical Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to Bruce Lee losing the role of a Chinese monk to David Carradine. It still happens today. Whether we’re discussing “21,” “The Great Wall,” etc., the West seems to prefer images of whites playing Asians than Asians being Asians. This not only results in Asian actors, models, etc. losing roles and taking a financial hit but in Asians’ continued marginalization in pop culture. I live in SoCal, where Asian Americans are one of the largest groups, larger than blacks, for example, and Hollywood completely ignores their existence for the most part. Yes, there’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Dr, Ken,” but not much else. Asians are the fastest growing group in the U.S., but you’d never know it from flipping through magazines, going to the movie theater or turning on your TV.

  8. ell says:

    i’m done with karlie, mostly because she mingles with the trumps so she’s clearly a supporter, and it’s a deal breaker.

    she shouldn’t be the only one getting criticism for this though, the person who came up with this idea should be questioned as well.

    • Mrs.Curious says:

      As far as I know, Karlie and her boyfriend Joshua Kushner voted for Hillary.

    • Jaii says:

      Karlie did say she voted Hilary , and I can’t believe I’m defending her as I think Kaiser got it right with “bland Becky” but you really can’t help who your boyfriends extended family are , or what they think, that isn’t on you… My bfs less nicer family member to put it politely think he’s hooked up with a potential terrorist because I’m not white enough , and though I dress “normally” as they describe it I wear a hijab which seems to be a sticking point with them…I’m just saying karlie f’ed up here, and rightly being criticised for it, but I won’t judge her for Josh or the clan his brother married in to

  9. QueenB says:

    Ugh what has “empowering and inspiring women” to do with this? thats such a typical white feminist answer and it should be called out. as if we should cut her some slack because this BS here is alrighty because her “goal” is “to empower women”. this rhethoric is so f*cking fake!

  10. Miffy says:

    Anna Wintour: ‘You know what our diversity issue needs?’
    Vogue staffer: ‘Diversity?’
    AW: ‘Oh yeah, that. Get some not white people and a person who eats. Just one. But then you know what it needs?’
    Vogue staffer: ‘What?’
    AW: ‘The blandest, most non descript blonde model highjacking another nationality.’
    Vogue staffer: ‘Couldn’t we use the Asian model we’re already featuring on the cover?’
    AW: (Laughs raucously) ‘YEAH! YEAH! LET’S DO THAT! And after that let’s put the plus size chick in a bikini! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!! You’re fired. Get out. I’m having everything you touched in the office destroyed. No one use the photocopier for 12 minutes til we get a new one.’

    How I imagine most Vogue meetings go.

  11. Nina says:

    Jesus Christ on a cracker f*** me in the ear…

  12. MLouise says:

    This is weird, insensitive and inappropriate. However, is it ‘racist’ I am not certain. What if she wore the kimono without the set up and make up? I mean is it still ok to get inspired from other culture? I find the problem is they make her look like a geisha not that she wore the kimono. Anyhow, I find that ‘racist’ is too much. I live in a city where couples I see are from different cultures and we attend weddings where white women dress in saris and no one finds it rude- quite the opposite. I did marry someone from an other culture and requested if I should at some point – for the traditional portion- wear the traditional dress and was told yes. I did it to respect my spouse’s culture. Not to appropriate it. By the way, my child is of mixed culture so he will live by both like a lot of child I know. In these times where so many kids are from parents with different background- I am wondering where this whole ‘cultural appropriation’ is going and I feel the answer is ‘too far’… What I was truly disappointed with this week is to see Matt Damon is centre of a movie about the Great Wall of China… Anyhow I dont make much sense maybe because I find the cultural appropriation inappropriate in some cases (when someone plays someone he is not) but in a diverse world where we eat and cook food from everwhere and marry and have children with people of different background- I find that putting people in boxes and tell them what they can and cannot do or wear is particular.

    • Miffy says:

      I think it’s safe to classify something as racist when it takes jobs away from people of the race their appropriating. I mean, really, Vogue’s contacts are so limited they couldn’t possibly get an Asian model for this? The irony being that they featured an Asian model as part of a group on this cover. It sends the message that models of other races are okay to be included in a discussion on diversity but when it comes to a stand alone spread the job will go to the white model even if it’s a spread on your own culture.

    • WTW says:

      You marrying to a different culture is not the same as what Karlie is doing here. My father’s Nigerian and when I got married to my husband, who is white, he gave both me and my husband matching Nigerian attire to wear. My husband hasn’t worn this attire, but if he did, it would clearly be different from a random white man wearing Nigerian dress. While the argument can be made that cultural appropriation is not always racist, we can’t forget that cultural appropriation has its roots in white supremacy and historically resulted in the dehumanization of people of color and denied them of untold amounts of money for their creative/cultural genius.

  13. Jess says:

    Karlie is as much to blame as Vogue. She is one of those models that is big enough to say “no” to some jobs

    • Lovisa says:

      Agree. I don’t get that line of defense. Sure, if she was a 14 year old plucked from Siberia making money to send back home, or even if she was a fresh faced 17 year old from Ohio with some idea about appropriation but making her first steps in this sphere it would be a forgivable misstep or understandable. But she’s not new to this, nor powerless, nor naive. She could have made a start “to empower and inspire women” by saying no to this kind of shenanigan.

  14. Josielein says:

    People need to stop apologizing for their bad behavior, especially when they have gotten paid for it. They knew what the were doing in the first place. Whether it’s a magazine cover, a movie..etc. Grow a pair, own up to it and say, you did it for the money or for the exposure. i would respect your honesty more than an insipid after the fact apology.

  15. LadyT says:

    Is the term yellowface really ok? Even indirectly referring to a Japanese person as yellow doesn’t feel fight. Sincerely just a question.

  16. TOPgirl says:

    The usual excuses….do and apologize later. I know that these white people that work in these industries don’t give a dam who they cross. The sad thing is that they are not sorry ever and continue to do it like it’s okay to piss off every other culture because they get the last laugh anyway.

  17. Sam says:

    I will give her this much in regards to her apology. At least it didn’t include “if I offended anyone.”

    But I’m not even surprised. She’s good friends with Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Gigi Hadid. And knowing that, she will come out of this unscathed.

  18. Lovisa says:

    “The cover featured several models of color, including Liu Wen, Ashley Graham, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, and Vittoria Ceretti. ”

    This bit makes it sound like all the models on the cover are woc, which isn’t the case.

    Re: Karlie. She can’t plead ignorance here. Her Victoria’s Secret thing was cut from broadcast a few years ago because she wore a Native American headdress. She’s been involved with these issues before, so you’d think she’s have at least tried to educate herself in the years between that incident and this one.

  19. SBS says:

    I have a question to those who say Vogue should have used an “Asian model”; do you mean Asian as in Japanese or Asian as in from any country in Asia? I know this might come off as dense but it’s something I’m genuinely curious about.

    • aang says:

      Me too. Like would they complain if a Chinese or Korean model were dressed as a geisha?

      • Kasia says:

        Yes. They would. We were mad about Memoirs of a Geisha being filled with mostly Chinese actors when it was a Japanese story to be told.

        Keep trying to excuse racism against Asians. Your idiot President being put in office makes more sense the more time I read American opinions about the rest of us.

      • Mei says:

        @Kasia

        Criticism shouldn’t be levied against people who are actively trying to further their understanding on a sensitive matter – SBS and aang were asking a question, your response was unnecessarily antagonistic. Furthermore, they didn’t state any support of excusing racism so I’m not sure where your basis for that incredibly rude comment lay… And how do you even know if they are Americans? You’re getting a bit KellyAnne Conway on us.

      • Nicole says:

        First time posting here, but I kind of wanted to weigh in on this question. I think people would have been mad if another model of an East Asian country did this shoot but in a different way. Japan has a history of racism towards other Asian countries and a result of that attitude was “comfort girls” during WWII. The crimes against humanity during that time were so horrific that tension between countries (especially with China) still exist. The Japanese government still refuses to admit being wrong on certain issues. To have another Asian model dress like a geisha, an occupation designed to serve Japanese men, touches on a time when women from other Asian countries were forced to do just that.

  20. SKF says:

    They should have used a Japanese model. However I really don’t see this as racism, more whitewashing. I also don’t think wearing Japanese clothing and styling is as egregious a case of cultural appropriation as some others. I’ve been to Kyoto and there are numerous places where they dress tourists up like geishas. There’s a whole theme park for it. We bought beautiful Yukatas (actual kimonos are incredibly expensive) and they were so happy for us to have them and wear them. I’ve been dressed in kimonos several times by Japanese people and it was not an issue, it was really lovely. Not to mention that Japanese youth street fashion has several branches that take western fashions from different periods and really exaggerate them. Why is that not cultural appropriation? Japan is not an oppressed culture. It is a strong, dominant first world country. Many people there love wearing “western” or “American” clothing in really strong stylised ways. This appears in their magazines and advertisements too. Also, there have apparently actually been a few Caucasian geishas. The only problem I see is perhaps Japanese Americans may have an issue as perhaps their culture as it is living in America is derided and then a white person does it and that’s okay? I haven’t seen Japanese culture like kimonos derided when I was in the US but I wouldn’t presume to speak for them. So actually I don’t see the racism or cultural appropriation. I see a frustrating lack of diversity and a stupid need to whitewash. There are incredibly beautiful Japanese models out there – use one of them for something like this.

  21. Coco says:

    Seriously ?!? Calling her a ‘bland becky’ ? How innopropiote and out of line

  22. M.A.F. says:

    Wait, people are surprised this happened? Really? The fact that it happened in the so called “diversity” issues is hilarious. Maybe once Anne Wintor is long gone will things at Vogue actually start changing but until then the fashion industry will continue to operate as they always have been…closed minded and blind to the world around them all for the sake of “art.”

  23. Sandy123 says:

    Ok so I just showed these pics to my Japanese husband and he says he can’t understand the fuss. Saying he thinks the way Japanese pop culture borrows from western ideas to be cheaper and more offensive. I guess offense is in the eye of the beholder. He just said, ‘She looks cute… What’s the big deal?’ Hmmm…he’s just interested to see how Americans interpret Japanese culture and it’s not demeaning as far as he can tell by these photos.

    • Ryllis says:

      I’m Japanese too, and I find it offensive. I’ve lived more than half my life in the UK, and have come across a lot of these issues as a child, as a teen, and as a grown woman. There are far better things to have a shoot for, than geishas. In the western consciousness ninjas and samurais are cool, right? Or a Boudicca-type warrior/priestess queen (Himiko)? If the shoot was about diversity, and inspiring and empowering women, then why not have a non-sex slave theme?

  24. dancinginthedark says:

    It would be kind of stereotypical to get a Japanese model to play a geisha though. I’d be more likely to be offended to get a big break and be in Vogue only to snag a darn Geisha role. Token Asian chick anyone?

    • st says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened. A few years ago I read an interview with an important model agent in London. She said part of the problem with editors is that they believe the story is about a black model or Asian model whereas a white model is just in a story that needs a model.

  25. Ballerina says:

    What a hypersensitive and dramatic post. o_O

    Of course this photoshoot was insensitive and dumb, but this article is an overreaction. The term “racism” should not be thrown around so casually.

    Definition of racism
    1
    : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
    2
    a : a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
    b : a political or social system founded on racism
    3
    : racial prejudice or discrimination

    In my opinion, this situation does not (at all) qualify. That is not what racism is. You don’t help the cause by overreacting and calling every little thing racist. I do agree that this is an important issue and that there is a problem with this photoshoot. Wrong decisions were made. White people as a whole need to evolve and get better at empathy and awareness (of others, of themselves). But c’mon.

    • Lyka says:

      This is you: I do agree that this is an important issue and that there is a problem with this photoshoot. Wrong decisions were made. White people as a whole need to evolve and get better at empathy and awareness (of others, of themselves).

      This is also you: The term “racism” should not be thrown around so casually.

      Why even bother to pay lip service to the idea of empathy and awareness when your end goal is simply to diminish, undermine, and oppose the voices of Asians who are calling this racist? Why bother to cite ideological and philosophical evolution in the same argument in which you note that others (who are trying to evolve by pushing forward an important dialogue) are merely overreacting? And finally, why does MY definition of racism – and that of modern activists, scholars, and POCs the world over – need to be subservient to yours?

      • Crox says:

        It would be immensely helpful for this discussion if you posted the definition of racism you mentioned (yours, of modern activists, scholars, and POC).

        As far as I can see, Ballerina quoted the latest definition of racism from Merriam-Webster. By this definition (all three points), this case indeed doesn’t fit. I don’t think Ballerina’s intention was to make your definition subservient. She might just not be familiar with it. I am not either, and I would like to read it.

    • Boo Peep says:

      When minorities talk about racism, many are talking about institutional racism as it is defined in sociology.

      “Racism depends on the ability to give or withhold social benefits, facilities, services, opportunities etc., from someone who is entitled to them, and is denied on the basis of race, color or national origin” (Randall, Vernellia 2008).

      It isn’t relevant whether you personally hate that particular group minorities, as long as you participate in a system that prevents them from getting jobs, education, or other resources that could improve their standard of living.

      • Boo Peep says:

        In fact, most people who participate in institutionalized racism (nearly all of us), do not personally hate people of another color.

        But institutions affect every aspect of our lives, and they are pervasive. They are also commonly populated by people that belong to the majority race. In the U.S., the majority race is white.

        In this Huffopost example, would you be more likely to hire someone who looks familiar (sex+race), talks the same way (culture), and shares the same level of education (class) or someone who doesn’t share the as much common ground?
        (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/384359) Everyone does this. But if you belong to the majority and the majority is in most of these institutions, then the majority has a lot of hiring power. And minorities have less of a chance of getting hired.

      • Boo Peep says:

        This is the same case here. Japanese Americans (Asian Americans in general) don’t have many opportunities to be hired in media. A lot of this has to do with the aforementioned common ground, and also money. Magazines don’t think there are enough of us for us to be a significant in terms of generating sales.

        Karlie took a rare opportunity that could have gone to a Japanese American. (There’s also the issue of representation. Many Asian Americans, if they can’t get hired themselves, would rather an Asian get the job so that they can at least have the rare opportunity of seeing someone who looks like them in represented in media.)

  26. jferber says:

    I certainly believe Karli chose Kushner as her boyfriend because he is a billionaire. She had a choice in both boyfriend and modeling. Only now that she gets heat, she “realizes” it was wrong. BS. And she is a bland Becky Stepford wife. She’s a place holder for all of Kushner’s future wives/girlfriends who will look exactly like her, only younger.

  27. Pjl says:

    Is it ever ok to wear clothes inspired by “another” culture? Serious question. Doesn’t this thinking lead to segregation and greater divides between people?

  28. Littlestar says:

    People sure love their (insert non-European/white ethnicity, race, culture) when it’s portrayed by someone who is European/white, but not the genuine thing. I’d love to see six page spread on a 21st century geisha, not a German girl dressed as a caricature.

    So far Hollywood’s Asians are Scarlet Johansson, Karlie Kloss, Emma Stone, Tilda Whatever and Matt Damon to a degree because they put a white protagonist instead of an Asian one in a movie about the Great Wall of CHINA.

  29. MrsA says:

    Don’t shoot me, I have to admit I find it hard to be offended when the person is obviously not doing it to make fun of sonesones race or culture. As a brown person, am I not allowed to dress up or be inspired by the beauty of another culture? This always makes me think of Tatiana Ali’s Daydreamin video – I loved all her ‘looks’ then and wonder if in 2017 I am now supposed to be offended she wore a sari?

    • Mia4S says:

      “As a brown person, am I not allowed to dress up or be inspired by the beauty of another culture?”

      Wrong question. The answer to your question is yes. Of course. The real issue here is that if they were doing a photo shoot showcasing your culture? They wouldn’t hire you. If they want to showcase your culture in a DIVERSITY issue, they’ll find a pretty white girl to do it. You’re not enough. Sorry. We need a white model. You might get a single photo…somewhere…if there’s room. Pretty white models need all the work you see. Now shhhh. Go over there and wait please. Maybe we’ll decide to do a token picture of someone with your ethnicity at some point. Be grateful! Shhhh.

      Please take this post with the tone of sarcasm I intend.

  30. Lana 234 says:

    it’s time for Anna Wintour to step down as Editor in Chief of Vogue. Clearly she is out of touch and doesn’t get it. Why did they use Karlie Koss when they could’ve found a Japanesemodel for the shoot . If vogue really wanted to show diversity they need to a lot better . I have never been to Japan but I would like to think it has a very rich culture and that geisha girls are one small aspect of that culture. I mean did no one at vogue think to themselves “this is offensive”. Magazines are suppose to reflect the times we live in and Vogue clearly doesn’t get that. I hope this issue doesn’t sell alot copies.

  31. Twinkle says:

    This is not the first time that @vogue has been “tone deaf” or IMO arrogant about multi-racial issues. 1) featuring two light skinned black girls and one Asian barely begins to scratch the surface of what shades of beauty this world has to offer. 2) Karlie Kloss appears in geisha mode in the story. That is the equivalent of black face for my people. Vogue’s arrogance, laziness and ignorance for not even a) stopping for one hot second and thinking maybe this is a bad idea; b) trying to understand a culture but rather fetishsizing and exoticsizing one small, minute, aspect of that culture. It’s 2017 and in this respect Vogue, who’s influence and reach, is without borders or limits, appears to be stuck in the 1950′s. We live in a high-speed, globalize world; willfull ignorance is unacceptable. I used to be an avid Vogue subscriber. I would read it cover to cover. Sometime ago, I started to get bored with Vogue and decided to let my subscription lapse. I haven’t missed it one iota, and with this egregious story, I won’t be renewing anytime soon.

  32. dromedary says:

    The problem as I see it isn’t that she’s dressed as a geisha, but that she’s dressed as a geisha in the so-called “diversity issue.” I think the finger-pointing should be at Vogue rather than on the model.

  33. jferber says:

    Fiorella, I agree that the practice of men dropping older wives/girlfriends for younger replacement models is “gross and sexist,” but I deny that I am so for simply pointing it out. This has been Trump’s practice as well. Blame the behavior as sexist, not the critic.

  34. jferber says:

    Also, I’m not clear on just who can be a “Becky.” Is it any white woman or one who has taken a black man away from a black woman? I don’t think “Becky” is racist. If so, you’d have to call out a lot of black women for using it, too, and I can’t agree with that. What if I’m white and call another woman a “Becky” if I don’t like her? So what? The post itself uses the term. I’d honestly like to get opinions from everyone.

  35. familiard says:

    For the longest time I was under the impression that Karlie was half-asian. Vogue probably thinks the same.

  36. serena says:

    That’s right, I think it’s fair to also slam some of the people who actually thought this would be good.

  37. Felicia says:

    I’m sorry but I have to laugh at the outrage on behalf of the Japanese. I’ll tell you what…go visit Kyoto (which is fabulous and has something like 180 michelin starred restaurants to boot) and see all of the tourists walking around dressed exactly like this. And they paid Japanese people, who earn a living doing this, to make them look that way and to rent the clothes.

    I didn’t personally have this experience, but a good friend of mine who took his family skiing there over Christmas did… he was refused entry to a bar at the ski resort because he wasn’t Japanese. Google that, it’s not uncommon apparently.

    • Boo Peep says:

      There seems to be a lot of conflation between Japanese Americans and Japanese people, the former which are directly affected by this issue because of lack of hiring opportunities in U.S. media. Usually these cases receive the most complaints from Asian Americans, who are Americans fighting for more equality in hiring + representation rather than Asians from East Asia.

      • Felicia says:

        Well, I live in Asia, so I guess it’s normal for me to think of Japan when one speaks of the Japanese. :)

        Serious question, are there any famous Japanese-American models? I read very little of the fashion press and at any rate, Vogue and all the rest have different editions for different countries. I’m asking this because the shoot appears to have been done in Japan and it occured to me that if they were going to use a Japanese woman, they still might not have hired a Japanese-American.

    • Boo Peep says:

      The context for my earlier reply:

      When minorities talk about racism, many are talking about institutional racism as it is defined in sociology.

      “Racism depends on the ability to give or withhold social benefits, facilities, services, opportunities etc., from someone who is entitled to them, and is denied on the basis of race, color or national origin” (Randall, Vernellia 2008).

      It isn’t relevant whether you personally hate that particular group minorities, as long as you participate in a system that prevents them from getting jobs, education, or other resources that could improve their standard of living.

      In fact, most people who participate in institutionalized racism (nearly all of us), do not personally hate people of another color.

      But institutions affect every aspect of our lives, and they are pervasive. They are also commonly populated by people that belong to the majority race. In the U.S., the majority race is white.

      In this Huffopost example, would you be more likely to hire someone who looks familiar (sex+race), talks the same way (culture), and shares the same level of education (class) or someone who doesn’t share the as much common ground?
      (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/384359) Everyone does this. But if you belong to the majority and the majority is in most of these institutions, then the majority has a lot of hiring power. And minorities have less of a chance of getting hired.

      This is the same case here. Japanese Americans (Asian Americans in general) don’t have many opportunities to be hired in media. A lot of this has to do with the aforementioned common ground, and also money. Magazines don’t think there are enough of us for us to be a significant in terms of generating sales.

      Karlie took a rare opportunity that could have gone to a Japanese American. (There’s also the issue of representation. Many Asian Americans, if they can’t get hired themselves, would rather an Asian get the job so that they can at least have the rare opportunity of seeing someone who looks like them in represented in media.)