We're not sure how to feel about Kendall Jenner's kimono photo
Twenty-year-old Kendall Jenner is one of our favorite models, so naturally we’re always looking forward to her newest cover, spread, or look. This photo for the summer issue of V Magazine, however, has us scratching our heads. In an Instagram posted by Valentino on Monday, and then reposted by mom-ager Kris Jenner, Kendall is seen all dolled up in a kimono and white face paint. Commenters were quick to point out that this looks a lot like cultural appropriation.
Appropriating a culture means someone is adopting aspects of a culture which is not their own. While Kendall isn’t explicitly presented as a Geisha (a traditional female entertainer) in this photo, she shares some pretty key characteristics with this traditionally Japanese figure, such as the face makeup and embellished kimono. The roots of the Geisha date back as early as 7th century Japan, but this photo seems to ignore that history and treats this cultural staple as a costume.
The comments on both Valentino and Kris Jenner’s posts make it pretty clear that something is up. “Cultural appropriation at it’s best,” one follower wrote. “Wooow, can’t possibly hire an Asian model, must give every modeling job to Kendall Jenner,” wrote another.
Other commenters see things differently, writing, “shes beautifully expressing the culture not making fun out of it.”
This isn’t the first time Kendall Jenner has been in hot water for alleged cultural appropriation: There was that time last summer when she hit the street wearing cornrows or just back in January when she modeled Mango’s “Tribal Spirit” collection.
While it’s important for Kendall to acknowledge how her actions affect other people, it’s just as important for brands and magazines to be more thoughtful when it comes to their campaigns. Shoots can draw inspirations from other cultures as long as that culture is represented in the models. Otherwise, we fear its a costume and not respectful of the original culture.
HelloGiggles reached out to the Asian Cultural Council for comment and will update this post when we receive a response.