Mercedes-Benz removes hot car ad with Asian model over ‘slanted eye’ blowback

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Mercedes-Benz’s latest hot car ad has caused Asian social media to blow up over ads featuring models sporting makeup that allegedly creates stereotypical “slanted eyes” which the Chinese find extremely offensive.

The high-end German automaker removed the ad in deference to the Chinese from the social media network Weibo on Dec. 25 after a massive blowup over the “slanted eyes” issue.

“Is there any beauty in this makeup?” one incensed critic wrote, according to the Global Times. “It is not [open for] interpretation. No Chinese will think this kind of ‘beauty’ is attractive,” another remarked.

The Global Times, which is the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda outlet, claimed on Tuesday that the hashtag which translates to “Mercedes-Benz model’s makeup is controversial” had received over 170 million views on Weibo.

(Video Credit: The Daily Mail)

“The premise is that Chinese cannot let the West shape our aesthetics,” asserted one critic, via the Global Times. “For those malicious slanderers, we should maintain sufficient vigilance and counter-attack.”

This is just one instance where Chinese social media has exploded over Western brands that promote Chinese beauty stereotypes in their ads. Gucci was also called out for a handbag ad that purportedly used “discriminatory” Chinese features.

Professor Zhu Wei, from the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that the Gucci ad was offensive, “This is extremely disrespectful to our culture. The disgust and revulsion expressed by the whole society toward this kind of insult should be heard.”

Dior also apologized in November over its handbag advertisement. Beijing-based photographer Chen Man prostrated himself in front of the CCP admitting his “immaturity and ignorance” by “perpetuating racial stereotypes” during his photoshoot. Dior groveled that it “respects the feelings of the Chinese people.”

A model for Chinese snack brand Three Squirrels shot back at critics last week, asking them, “Am I not Chinese?” That came after customers decided they were offended over an ad campaign from 2019 that featured model Cai Niang Niang, who some claimed was stereotypically exploited in the ad for her “overly slanted eyes” while posing with her hair in braids.

She wrote on Weibo Sunday clapping back at her detractors, according to the South China Morning Post, “With small eyes, am I not Chinese? I totally agree with patriotism. However, creating big problems out of normal matters has become a morbid obsession. I hope everybody can have a healthy mindset.”

“Just because my eyes are small, I’m not good enough to be a Chinese person? I don’t know what to say to these comments … I’m really helpless,” the model said on Weibo. “As a professional model, what I need to do is be photographed accordingly to what the client wants, I don´t know how this became about me humiliating the Chinese people.”

The Global Times said that her response drew more than 330 million views.

“I hope people online would stop messaging me with personal attacks. I´m not a supermodel nor am I a public figure, I´m just someone who loves my motherland and a law-abiding citizen,” the model concluded.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Three Squirrels has apologized as well. “In response to the feedback from netizens that the model´s makeup does not conform to publicly-accepted aesthetics standards and caused discomfort, our company apologizes,” a statement read.

Other international brands that have faced scrutiny in China include H&M, Nike, Zara, and Dolce & Gabbana.


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