Supermodel Gigi Hadid came under fire in China last week over a controversial video showing her squinting her eyes to imitate Buddha.Furious Chinese people are telling the 22 years old not to attend this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which is set to be held in Shanghai this autumn.After Chinese web users left thousands of angry comments to boycott Gigi, the American model, one of the highest-paid models in the world, had to issue an apology on a Chinese social media platform.
The news came shortly after Victoria’s Secret announced it would hold its annual fashion show in China for first time on November 28.The video at centre of the outcry was posted onto Instagram in February by Gigi Hadid’s sister, Bella.In the clip, which was later deleted, Gigi and friends can be seen at a restaurant, where several are singing Happy Birthday.Gigi holds up a cookie in the shape of Buddha, then smiles and squints her eyes to imitate his face.At the time, other social media users quickly chimed in to criticise Gigi, with many claiming her actions to be ‘racist’.
Seven months later, controversial video was back in the spotlight after Gigi confirmed she would attend this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai.She made announcement on her Twitter and Instagram on August 29, and quickly people in China noticed old video and publicly voiced their anger.Hundreds of thousands of people left comments on internet, calling Gigi racist and telling her not to come to China.One angry person web user wrote ‘Don’t come to Shanghai. You’re not welcome here. Screw off!’Another person posted: ‘[If she] despises Asian people, why would she come to Asia? [I] boycott [her] firmly.’One commentator challenged Gigi’s actions by saying ‘Doesn’t she have Middle Eastern blood herself?’A fourth user told ‘I suggest that she and her sister Bella should get out of Victoria’s Secret show…’Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, published a video on its Weibo account, which showed more controversial comments made by Gigi and her mother in past.In the clip, Gigi’s mother can be heard telling a make-up artist in a reality TV show to put more eye shadow on Gigi so she ‘doesn’t look Chinese’.
Faced with controversy, Gigi apparently issued a bilingual statement on Weibo to apologise for her actions.The post is only one on a verified Weibo account believed to be hers.It told ‘It hurts me to hurt anyone, and I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt or felt let down by me.’I have utmost respect and love for the people of China and cherish the incredible memories I have made while visiting in past. I have learned to be very careful of how my actions can come off or be portrayed, and I’m hopeful you’ll accept my apology. ‘Then it continued ‘I hope to meet many of you and let you get to know me for me. I do not condone hurtful behavior and want people and fans of all backgrounds to know they are welcomed, loved, and respected around me and by me.’It seems that Gigi’s apparent apology has not satisfied angry Chinese people. The post received more than 150,000 comments, both in English and Chinese, and many people told the apology was not sincere.One user wrote ‘Sorry, we cannot forgive u .I think if show isn’t in Shanghai, maybe you won’t say sorry.’Another person told ‘Well Gigi, though you apologized,I don’t think you have realized what you did was wrong. Maybe you thought it’s just interesting and there’s no big deal.’But both of us know meaning behind that act. If you apologize just because of show, PLEASE do not!’The annual Victoria’s Secrect Fashion Show has been branded as ‘the sexist’ and ‘the most watched fashion shows’ in the world.Last year, extravagant runway show, held in Paris, received 1.4 billion views in more than 190 countries.This year, models including Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid are set to strut their stuff wearing the iconic Angle Wings in China, a strategic and important market for American lingerie brand.