Model Karlie Kloss has apologized after a Vogue photo shoot in which she was dressed as a Japanese geisha was criticized for being racially insensitive.
Vogue has come under fire for its 2017 “Diversity” issue, in which Caucasian model Kloss appeared as a Japanese geisha in powdery makeup and a kimono for a six-page spread. The shoot was criticized for appropriating Japanese culture, and for using a white model rather than a Japanese model to wear the traditional Japanese fashion, BuzzFeed reports.
Social media users noticed problems with the photos right away after the photographer, Mikael Jansson, posted an unused image from the photo shoot on his Instagram.
Critics called the shoot “yellowface,” a term for white people dressing up to appear Asian, similar to blackface.
“She did yellowface in the diversity issue,” wrote one user on Twitter.
“They could have just cast an East Asian model,” tweeted another. “But no, that would make sense.”
Another user pointed out the previous similarly controversial incidents of white women being cast as Asians with actresses Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.
The photos were shot by Jansson in Japan and styled by Phyllis Posnick. The spread’s title, “Spirited Away,” also became the subject of jokes on social media, Yahoo Style reports.
“Is that Karlie Kloss photo shoot really called ‘SPIRITED AWAY’ hahahahah someone at Vogue watched one Miyazaki film,” tweeted BuzzFeed entertainment reporter Susan Cheng, referencing Hayao Miyazaki’s popular anime film, “Spirited Away.”
Another user pointed out that while Kloss’ spread was six pages long, two models of color were given just one picture each in the Diversity issue.
“Karlie Kloss gets a 6-page spread in yellowface for Vogue’s DIVERSITY ISSUE,” the user tweeted, “while Imaan Hammam and Liu Wen get one pic each… the irony.”
Kloss has since apologized for the photos, saying in a Twitter post that she was “truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive.”
“My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women,” wrote Kloss. “I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”
Sources: BuzzFeed, Yahoo Style / Photo credit: Mikael Jansson/Instagram via BuzzFeed, Susan Cheng/Twitter