Victoria’s Secret is just brimming with controversy these days, what with its overzealous airbrushing, insulting other models, and misleading packaging. Its latest scandal is a questionable “Sexy Little Geisha” outfit.
The outfit is part of the retailer’s Go East collection, which is presumably a line of Asian-inspired negligées and accessories. The ensemble, modeled by Candice Swanepoel, consists of a mesh bodysuit with an oval cutout on the bodice and an “Eastern-inspired” floral print on the bra cups and crotch, a mini fan and removable obi belt in the same print, and hair chopsticks with tassels.
The outfit is undoubtedly sexy (even though Swanepoel looks a bit uncomfortable in it), but it’s also quite offensive to Asian women — particularly the Japanese, from which the geisha culture originated. Historically, geishas are professionally trained entertainers and generally cater to a male audience, but many non-Japanese mistake them for prostitutes.
Possible cultural misidentification aside, critics say the outfit perpetuates the sexualization of Asians, while others say that a corporation capitalizing on geisha ensembles for a “role-playing lingerie seems a bit tasteless”. Unsurprisingly, the link to the specific outfit and the category page have both been pulled down, but screencaps still exist. We’ve reached out to Victoria Secret for comment, but as of press time haven’t heard back.
Check it out for yourselves below, and tell us if you think the outfit is offensive: