US lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret has withdrawn its Sexy Little Geisha outfit after the costume was branded ‘tasteless’ by critics.
The outfit, which was modelled by Candice Swanepoel, formed part of the retailer’s Go Eastern section. It included an ‘Eastern-inspired’ sheer mesh teddy and matching Japanese fan and chopsticks.
The Sexy Little Geisha garment – described on the website as ‘your ticket to an exotic adventure’ – was slammed by the likes of Race blog Racialicious, who called it ‘a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation of a culture and opt instead for racialised fetishising against Asian women’.
It added: "There’s a long-standing trend to represent Asian women as hyper-sexualised objects of fantasy, so it’s telling that none of the models wearing the Go East collection appear to be Asian.
"Donning a ‘sexy Geisha’ outfit to get the ball rolling in the bedroom remains offensive because it confirms a paradigm in which Asian people and their culture can be modified and sexualised and appropriated for the benefit of the West."
Women’s website The Frisky also condemned the costume, stating: "Considering the complicated history of geishas, re-purposing the [geisha] ‘look’ for a major corporation to sell as role-playing lingerie seems a bit tasteless."