Vogue and Zara, Frecklegate and ‘beauty’ in China, explained

Last month, after Zara posted photos of model Li Jingwen 李静雯 (who models under the name Jing Wen) to its Sina Weibo page, Chinese social media users howled with outrage, then vigorously debated Jing Wen’s appearance in Zara’s latest marketing campaign for a cosmetics line. The reason? Because of her freckles.

“After seeing this ad I have decided I will not buy any products from Zara,” Weibo user Moshiwuchang said, as quoted on CNN, “not because I think the model is ugly, but because you are discriminating Asians’ view of beauty.”

But that controversy would be nothing compared to the backlash against Vogue model Gao Qizhen 高其蓁, whose appearance on an Instagram post triggered accusations, from Chinese internet users, of the brand “exoticizing” Asian models. One user wrote, as reported by Radii, “You’re giving people a weird idea of what Chinese people look like.”

What triggered these reactions? Watch the above video to find out, and learn how some pushed back against the initial surge of negativity toward Zara and Vogue.