Just a few weeks ago Urban Outfitters came under fire for their "Navajo" collection and now Forever 21 has joined them in releasing a culturally offensive product. Just as you should not refer to a Native American-inspired print as "Navajo" we take serious issue with Forever 21 naming an Asian-inspired character on a pendant "Oriental Girl." Yes, you read that right. The "Oriental Girl necklace" is currently retailing for $1.50. Thanks to Fashionista for tipping us off.
It seems odd and offensive to sell a cultural stereotype like a geisha-styled girl on a pendant in the first place, but even if Forever 21 was hoping to celebrate the culture, it's hard to see past their use of the incredibly outdated term "Oriental." Lumping all Asian people into an archaic, offensive label like that is just plain wrong. And it's particularly surprising seeing as Forever 21 is owned by a Korean American family. Why would they support-and profit on-an Asian stereotype?
The ladies at Fashionista also stumbled on another equally insensitive necklace in Forever 21 depicting a stereotypical Native American girl, braids, hide, and all. They took a photo of the pendants (below), but we can't seem to find that one on their website.
We're hoping this negative attention will not only make Forever 21 stop selling the offensive jewelry but perhaps raise awareness in the fashion industry to stop capitalizing on hurtful cultural stereotypes. It's entirely possible and even likely that the Chang family, who owns Forever 21, did not see or approve of these pendants before they arrived on shelves, but we're truly surprised that not one person in the retail company questioned their design during production. Let's stop reducing a race of people to a $1.50 necklace with offensive name. Please.
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