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A renowned Chinese fashion photographer has apologized for her past work after online critics called it an insult to the Chinese people and fashion house Dior removed a photo of her from a show in Shanghai.

Chen Man acknowledged criticism of his earlier work, including “Young Pioneers”, a series of images of a young model with a backdrop of major landmarks such as China’s giant Three Gorges Dam, or the country’s first moon flight from below. Includes image of the orbiter. her dress.

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The criticism was reported by the state-owned Global Times newspaper, which noted that comments on social media called his work “inherent child pornography and an insult to young pioneers”, the name of a youth organization affiliated with the Communist Party. .

Chen wrote on his social media account this week, “I have deeply reflected and blamed myself for my naivety and ignorance at the time. I feel like I should still formally apologize to everyone.”

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“I am a Chinese person, born and raised, I love my homeland very much,” she wrote. “And I know deep down that as an artist, I have a responsibility towards the mission of recording and spreading the culture of the Chinese people.”

She joins several Chinese and foreign celebrities, brands and artists who have publicly apologized after their work was criticized in state media. Some have been boycotted for refusing to apologise or considering the apology insufficient.

Chen’s apology came more than a week after Dior was attacked over photos at its exhibition in Shanghai that depicted a model of Asian descent with tan, freckled skin and dark eyelashes while holding a Dior purse Was.

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Critics considered the picture contrary to East Asian beauty standards of fair skin, saying it perpetuated Western stereotypes of Asian faces, such as slanted eyes.

At least one photo editor has praised her work in the past for creating an aesthetic that was neither emulating Western magazines or Japanese and South Korean magazines. And in 2019, the Global Times described Chen as China’s answer to American photographer Annie Leibovitz, calling her a “shining star” with a unique perspective.
Dior removed the picture, saying it was part of an art project and not an advertisement. In a statement on its Chinese social media account, Dyer said it “respects the sentiments of the Chinese people” and “strictly follows Chinese laws and regulations.”

Other luxury brands have previously been embroiled in controversy in China. In 2018, a Dolce & Gabbana ad sparked public outcry when the ad instructed an Asian model to eat spaghetti, cannolis and pizza with a pair of chopsticks. The videos were later removed.

Chen’s social media post stated that he accepted criticism of his work for a certain brand, but did not specify Dior.

The photo taken from the Shanghai exhibition was shot in the same style as Chen’s cover for British fashion magazine ID that featured 12 young Chinese women of different ethnic minorities. Many women did not fit what has become a common definition of beauty in China – some had small eyes and some had freckles.

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Ding Yining, a photo editor for Sixth Tone, praised Chen’s work in a 2018 article for the state-backed English-language feature website.

“From her works, it seems that Chen prefers female models with narrow, single-lid eyes and a sense of traditional East Asian elegance,” Ding wrote.

Chen told Sixth Tone that “as a professional visual artist, I believe I should help more people recognize the faces of modern Chinese beauty with more confidence.”

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Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan.