Netizens Attack Photographer Chen Man Over Image in Dior Art Exhibit

Many have accused her pictures of “stereotyping, insulting, and demonizing" Chinese faces

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9:48 PM HKT, Thu November 18, 2021 2 mins read

A vocal segment of the Chinese internet is intensely upset with a recent picture from well-known Chinese visual artist Chen Man, accusing the image of “stereotyping, insulting, and demonizing” Chinese faces.

Chen produced the photographic work, which features a Chinese woman holding the brand’s iconic Lady Dior handbag for “LADY DIOR,” an ongoing art exhibition from the French luxury fashion house Dior.

According to The Business of Fashion, Dior declined to comment on the controversy but did confirm that the photo has been pulled from the exhibition, which is being held at the Shanghai West Bund Artistic Center from November 12 to 23.

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Chen Man’s recent photographic work for the LADY DIOR exhibition has caused significant controversy in China. Image via Weibo

What upsets Chinese netizens most is the appearance of the woman in the photo. Many have argued that her “freckled skin, squinted eyes, dark makeup, and outfit” are negative stereotypes of Chinese people.

On China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, the hashtag ‘Chen Man’s works’ (#陈漫作品#) has received 330 million views.

“Look at the photos she’s taken for Chinese magazines and celebrities and herself, and then look at the ones she’s taken for foreign magazines. You will see how she manipulates her style for different markets and caters to different clients,” reads a popular comment under the hashtag.

A fashion blogger also dug up a portrait series of 12 Chinese women from various ethnic groups that Chen produced in 2012 for British fashion magazine i-D and criticized her for not showing “the beauty of Chinese women in her lens.”

“Some of these women look like Black people, and some look like Native Americans. In short, she didn’t portrait them as Chinese,” writes the fashion blogger.

According to a social media post, Chen wanted to use the series to present “real, confident, and beautiful Chinese women.” She recruited young women from ethnic schools across China and portraited them in their own way.

“I want to tell every young girl in the world that they can be themselves, be confident and proud of their different beauty,” Chen said in her post.

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Chen Man explained the purpose behind the portrait series on social media

Dior had previously promoted Chen’s work for the Shanghai exhibition on various Chinese social media platforms but later deleted the posts — presumably in response to the public backlash.

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Dior had posted Chen Man’s photo on its social media accounts but later deleted the posts. Screengrab via Weibo

Known for her celebrity photoshoots, Chen has photographed some of the most recognizable women in the world, including Rihanna, Victoria Beckham, Fan Bingbing, and Li Bingbing.

Of course, some people think her images are fantastic. In fact, netizens are pretty happy about another project Chen did for LADY DIOR, which involved Chinese idol Liu Yuxin.

“Self-confidence is beautiful. All Chinese models look good to me. Also, isn’t a square face and single eyelids the traditional look of models?” a netizen posted on Weibo.

Some suggested that “China’s mainstream beauty standards are narrow” and that “Chinese people are not comfortable yet with postmodernism and mixing and matching styles.”

Cover photo via Weibo

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