Victoria's Secret is on the defensive—and no, it's not because of those crazy Photoshop jobs—after a "Sexy Little Geisha" bodysuit that was featured in its "Go East" collection came under fire from critics online who claimed it played to the worst racial stereotypes.
As a result of the uproar, the lingerie giant has since pulled the ensemble from its website without so much as an explanation.
But it's clear the negative comments from various bloggers struck a chord.
One of the first out of the gate calling the "Eastern"-themed garment offensive was Racialicious, a blog focusing on the "intersection of race and pop culture," which issued a scathing post titled "Victoria's Secret Does It Again: When Racism Meets Fashion," calling out VS for harnessing "a kind of overt racism masked behind claims of inspired fashion."
The brouhaha began when Victoriassecret.com initially touted the outfit worn by Angel Candice Swanepoel as "your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there's one for every sexy you."
But Racialicious' Nina Jacinto wasn't buying it, saying the geisha getup simply reinforced "a narrative that says the culture can be completely stripped of its realness in order to fulfill our fantasies of a safe and non-threatening, mysterious East."
"There's a long-standing trend to represent Asian women as hypersexualized objects of fantasy, so it's telling that none of the models wearing the "Go East" collection appear to be Asian," she wrote, adding, "Perhaps this is a way for the company to distance itself from accusations of racism."
Thefrisky.com, a female-centric pop culture website, also weighed in, blasting the geisha look as "a sex costume, really" that's designed "to make your lingerie 'exotic' and signify the sexual submission and exploitation of Asian women."
Victoria's Secret has declined to comment on the controversy.