September 26th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

'Sexy Little Geisha?' Not so much, say many Asian-Americans

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Joz Wang doesn't buy things at Victoria's Secret - overpriced, she says, though she occasionally strolls through the store known for racy lingerie sported on runways and in catalogs by sexy, sultry models.

But even if she could spare the money, Wang, founder of an influential Asian-American blog, might be tempted to stay away from Victoria's Secret for the moment. At least until she gets an answer to what the clothing company was thinking when it launched its recent "Go East" collection.

One particular number in the collection - the "Sexy Little Geisha" - raised eyebrows, especially from the Asian-American community. Many found it offensive and accused Victoria's Secret of exploiting sexual stereotypes of Asian women.

You can't find the image of "Sexy Little Geisha" on the Victoria's Secret website anymore. Apparently, it and the entire "Go East" line vanished after the online firestorm.

But several blogs posted the catalog picture of a voluptuous blonde model in a sheer mesh teddy with cutouts and strategically placed Asian floral patterns.

Wang could see why the getup was called racist.


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Filed under: Asian in America • Ethnicity • Gender • How we look • Pop culture • Race • Who we are • Women
September 26th, 2012
12:37 PM ET

Opinion: Are we really ready to take a look at 'real women'?

Editor's note: Lesley Kinzel is an associate editor at xoJane.com and the author of "Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body."

(CNN) - Designer Ralph Lauren is making model-related headlines again.

The last time this happened, it was when the iconic American branddigitally altered model Filippa Hamilton into a biologically impossible state, rendering her waist and pelvis in miniature and leaving the rest of her body normal-sized.

Astute critics noticed and spoke up. It didn't help matters when Hamilton herself stated that she was allegedly fired by the brand for being "too fat" by fashion world metrics.

More recently, however, the Ralph Lauren brand has made attempts to improve its image and hired Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley, who stands 6-foot-2 and wears a size 12, for a print campaign. After the public relations nightmare with Hamilton, many have heralded this choice as a positive sign of improvement in a fashion industry that overwhelmingly hires and promotes models who are far thinner than the average American woman.

As is often the case when any plus-size model makes news, many are eager to hold this up as a victory for "real women," that anonymous majority who so rarely get to see themselves portrayed in fashion images.

But don't get too enthusiastic with the back-patting just yet.

This is not a revolutionary moment, any more than it has been any other time a mainstream designer has plucked a nonwaifish model from the depths of the plus-size-modeling dungeon and made her, however briefly, a public curiosity. Fashion is famously fickle, and if Ralph Lauren has chosen to showcase this particular model at this particular moment, it may have nothing to do with making some grand political statement or a significant change of heart and everything to do with generating buzz.

Of course, I can't know the brand's intentions for certain. But in the larger context, even widespread use of plus-size models doesn't signal the evolution of a movement away from the impossible feminine physical ideal; it's just taking that ideal and making it a tiny bit bigger.

Read Lesley Kinzel's full column

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Filed under: Age • How we live • What we think • Women
Opinion:'Dreamers' deal a roll of the dice
Bolivian Diego Mariaca, center, with his mother, fills out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals paperwork in Washington, D.C.
September 26th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Opinion:'Dreamers' deal a roll of the dice

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarrette, Jr., CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Imagine what it must be like to be born in one country but only know another, to be labeled "illegal" but feel 100% American, and to be asking for special dispensation from a government that has shown a flair for arresting and deporting people just like you.

"Samuel" doesn't have to imagine this life. He's too busy living it.

The recent high school graduate is one of about 82,000 Dreamers who opted to roll the dice on a new government program that promises temporary relief for young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have no criminal record and are pursuing higher education.

They're called Dreamers because they might have qualified for legal status under the Dream Act if the bill hadn't died in the Senate in December 2010 when 36 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted against cloture.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column