American Vogue’s December edition features eight Asian models: Du Juan, Liu Wen, Bonnie Chen, Lily Zhi, Hyoni Kang, So Young Kang, Lee Hyun, and Tao Okamato. Vogue lauds these models as “redefining traditional concepts of beauty.”
While this spread seems indicative of more Asian models in the business (Liu Wen became Estée Lauder’s first Asian spokesmodel this fall, and Maybelline has announced another Chinese model, Shu Pei, as the face of the brand), the idea that Asian women are redefining traditional beauty is problematic. As Disgrasion asks, traditional beauty where? Asian women have been considered traditionally beautiful in Asia for, well, a long time, which implies that Vogue thinks “traditional” beauty means “Western” beauty. But “traditional,” like “normal,” is a relative word. It doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere.
At least Vogue is acknowledging that Asian women are beautiful (seriously, why has it taken so long?). Hopefully they don’t just consider their racial quota complete, and continue to feature Asian models in more than two-page spreads.