Below is a copy of the post from her blog for those who don’t want to visit it.
Lime Crime’s Chinadoll campaign caused a bit of an uproar in the blogging community. While most of you saw it for what it is — a beautiful photograph inspired by China — some were genuinely offended because it referenced China. As the brains behind the campaign, I wanted to share some of my own thoughts.
Is Chinadoll meant to portray authentic China?
Not any more than a Hollywood movie is meant to portray reality. I am a makeup artist, not a historian :), representing an entire race in a historically-accurate manner is an ill-fitted task… Me and my team’s goal was to create is a fantasy inspired by China, which we did through creative means available to us such as styling, makeup, hair and photography.
Painters, architects and composers have interjected their work with elements borrowed from other cultures for centuries, because it made their works more memorable and fresh. It wouldn’t be very fun to be an artist if you were only allowed to reference cultures in an 100% authentic way. Personally, I like to mix things up and find inspirations in all corners of the world — my wardrobe and house incorporate Spanish, Chinese, Moroccan and Russian motifs.
Why did you select a non-Asian model for Chinadoll?
Before I answer this, let me make clear that I think Asian women are beautiful and I have worked with a few in the past as a makeup artist. However, since our Chinadoll was not meant to be necessarily Asian, she could be portrayed by a person of any descent. Chinadoll is a character, an amalgam of inspirations ranging from dolls to Shanghai Art Deco advertising posters. We chose HannaBeth (who is a total sweetheart, by the way) because she has lovely features and embodies the spirit we wanted.
And yes, the name is a pun that refers to both, China and porcelain.
Aren’t you promoting negative Asian stereotypes?
Anybody who has read the Chinadoll Press Release knows that it’s not what this is about. Our Chinadoll is strong but not afraid to cry, rebellious but in control, traditional and untamed all at once. These are all human qualities, not associated with any race in my opinion. She is a living contradiction and, above all, a woman — she can never be, will never be, stereotyped! I couldn’t think of a better person to portray her than the tattooed, nose-ring donning HannaBeth.
What is your stance on Cultural Appropriation?
I was at Anna’s Linens the other day and saw this Asian Garden bathroom set. I found myself wondering if this seemingly innocent shower curtain was offensive to somebody. What is cultural appropriation anyway? You can read the Wikipedia article here, but to summarize it’s the borrowing of certain cultural elements by another cultural group. To be honest, I find the notion a little silly. It implies that unless you are Japanese, you can’t cosplay as your favorite anime character or write manga without offending someone. You can’t sing the blues or release a rap album if you weren’t born black. And you most certainly can’t make this collection if you are Karl Lagerfeld!
Call me crazy, but I find this whole ‘cultural appropriation’ thing — or cultural exchange, as I like to call it — kinda brilliant actually. I think it encourages acceptance, enriches our existence, and makes us more tolerant toward other humans all over the world. Borrowing from cultures — and letting borrow! — is vital to ending racism, bigotry and misanthropy. To say nothing of the art and music it has given us throughout the years: Mozart’s March Alla Turca, Tchaikovsky’s Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker, and the entire Japonism movement in art , just to name a few!
Not all that pertains to race has to be racist, just like not every cultural reference has to be met with opposition. What matters is intent. As an artist and a human being, I have the right to be inspired by and wanting to explore, adapt, and otherwise express myself through things I find wonderful.
Chinadoll is NOT a marketing gimmick. It’s a concept I’ve nurtured for an entire year, believed in, and thought about every night before I went to sleep. It came from a good place in my heart and it saddens me to see anyone get offended by it. If you did find it offensive on any level, for that I’m really sorry. Having said this, Chinadoll will live. I’m not going to kill her just because it makes some people uncomfortable — that would require sacrificing my artistic integrity and sending a radical message I don’t believe in to the community.
I’d like to acknowledge everyone who has supported Lime Crime throughout the years. After spending a year in development, I can promise you that beyond the photoshoot, Chinadoll is simply great makeup. I hope you can give it a chance!
Perhaps we should raise money to send her a Sociology 101 textbook. This is bullshit, plain and simple and she doesn’t deserve any better response than that from people who’ve been mature and thoughtful with their responses thus far. Not intending to be offensive does not negate the fact that people find the campaign offensive.