Mercedes-Benz removes social media ad after backlash in China over ‘slanted eye’ make-up of female model

Locals slammed the ad and claimed that it perpetuates western stereotypes about Asians

Arpan Rai
Thursday 30 December 2021 12:55
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<p>One of the models in the video was seen with an accentuated eyeliner which made her eyes appear slanted, triggering outrage on China’s social media </p>

One of the models in the video was seen with an accentuated eyeliner which made her eyes appear slanted, triggering outrage on China’s social media

Luxury automotive company Mercedes-Benz took down a controversial advertisement in China after it was accused of perpetuating western stereotypes about Asians.

The advertisement, first published on Chinese social media platform Weibo on 25 December, sparked a debate after one of the models in the video was seen with an accentuated eyeliner that made her eyes appear slanted.

Local audiences objected to the depiction by Mercedes-Benz as it underlined a western stereotype about Asians, according to a report by the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper Global Times.

The female model’s make-up looked like “slanted eyes” and once again stirred a heated discussion, the daily said, adding that the “image of slanted eyes and a braid is a western stereotype of the Chinese in the 19th century”.

Citing experts, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece denounced the ad for not being an “objective description”. It said that the ad was a “label for east Asians based on the western sense of ideological superiority”.

The Independent has not seen the full version of the advertisement and cannot verify these claims.

The advertisement has now been taken down from Weibo by Mercedes-Benz.

This comes amid increasing outrage on social media in China over the depiction of its nationals, even in the domestic industry.

Three Squirrels Inc, a Chinese firm, had recently tendered an apology for the same make-up of slanted eyes on its model Cai Niang Niang. The controversy continued this week, even as the model defended the portrayal, calling the outrage “morbid”.

“Does that mean I should not be a Chinese because I was born with small eyes?” the model asked. “I was born with eyes like that. They are even smaller in real life. Does that mean I should not be a model because I was born with small eyes? I am all for patriotism… but this is kind of morbid.”

Several other foreign players from the west have faced heat from China over their depictions of east Asian physical attributes in their advertisements.

Luxury clothing and beauty brand Christian Dior SE was slammed for “smearing Asian women” in one of its ads last month, after which the photo was discontinued from circulation. Other companies like Dolce & Gabbana, and H&M have also faced anger for their portrayal of Chinese nationals in ads.

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