November 01, 2011

Forever 21's stereotypical necklaces

Forever 21 is Selling Native American Girl and ‘Oriental Girl’ Necklaces

By Dhani MauLast week, while in search of cheap jewelry for my Halloween costume, I stumbled across something pretty weird and confusing: a necklace that is basically a cartoon character version of a “traditional” Native American girl hanging from a chain. She has tanned skin, rosy cheeks, long, dark side braids, and a somewhat stereotypical-looking Native American dress. I looked over to see, in addition to the Native American girl, several similar necklaces that displayed traditionally-dressed Asian girls.

Apparently, Forever 21 thinks that people want to wear outdated, cultural stereotypes as necklaces, and that it’s okay to sell them. Unfortunately, it gets worse. Later, I perused their website and found that one of the necklaces is literally called “Oriental Girl Necklace.” Seriously. Because why not slap on an offensive and outdated descriptor to your offensive culturally-insensitive jewelry?
Comment:  One could really rip apart the "Oriental Girl Necklace." The white skin, the empty eyes and smile, the lack of limbs. This is literally a China doll--an Asian woman as a delicate porcelain object.

Given this evidence, what about the Native necklace? Well, you can cross the "honoring Indians" justification off the list. There's no way you can spin "Oriental Girl" as honoring Asian cultures. The Native necklace is equally dishonorable.

So what was Forever 21 thinking? Apparently, that Indians and Asians really look like this. And that it's okay to sell these stereotypical images.

It would be exactly like selling Aunt Jemima or Uncle Tom necklaces. Or white hillbilly necklaces, for that matter. Are those products coming next, or is Forever 21 already selling them?

The products themselves are stereotypical. The fact that Forever 21 is targeting only certain minorities with these stereotypes is racist.

For more on Forever 21, see Columbus Day at the Westfield Mall and Forever 21's Columbus Day Sale.

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