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Dolce & Gabbana's 'Chinese Chopsticks' Ad Accused of Racism

Teen Vogue logo Teen Vogue 2018-11-21 Mekita Rivas
a woman holding a birthday cake © Teen Vogue

Dolce & Gabbana is stirring up some controversy with its latest social media campaign. The Italian fashion house is prepping for its upcoming show in Shanghai on Wednesday, November 21, by posting several videos online with the hashtags #DGLovesChina and #DGTheGreatShow. The campaign, however, is being called racist and tone-deaf because it appears to lean heavily on Chinese stereotypes.

According to Jing Daily, Dolce & Gabbana shared the videos on Weibo, China’s main social media platform, to promote the November 21 show. While they’ve since been taken down from Weibo, they remain visible on Instagram. In the clips, an Asian woman struggles to eat Italian foods like pasta, pizza, and cannoli with chopsticks. Jing Daily reports that in the cannoli video, the male narrator asks the model, “Is it too huge for you?”

Critics argue that the campaign is also problematic because the Chinese cultural symbols and elements used in the videos, like lanterns and couplets, are “outdated and stereotypical,” Jing Daily notes. The model’s clichéd appearance, as well as the video’s subtitles that called chopsticks a “small-stick” tool, have left many Chinese people feeling that Dolce & Gabbana is making a mockery of their culture. On Weibo, Jing Daily reports that “Boycott Dolce” has been mentioned more than 18,000 times, and some users have demanded an apology from the brand.

On Twitter, reactions included general disbelief and disgust. One user called on Dolce & Gabbana to cancel its Shanghai show altogether, and several others said that this campaign amounted to “racial discrimination.”

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