Zuo Ye, the Chinese model seen in Dolce & Gabbana’s controversial adverts last November, has broken her silence about appearing in the disastrous – and, arguably, extremely racist – advertising campaign, South China Morning Post reports. In a lengthy message posted Monday on Weibo, the model apologized for her appearance in the racially insensitive campaign, claiming that it “completely ruined” her career.
Zuo’s apology comes two months after the three-part video series titled ‘Eat with Your Chopsticks’ was posted on Dolce & Gabbana’s social media platforms. The promotional videos, in which Zuo was filmed attempting to eat pizza, cannoli and pasta with chopsticks, were widely criticized for enforcing outdated Asian stereotypes and trivializing Chinese culture.
Screengrab via QQ
According to South China Morning Post, Zuo, a recent graduate of Guangzhou’s South China Agricultural University, wrote that she hadn’t given enough thought to the content of the commercial, and felt “guilty and ashamed” about the massive backlash it had triggered. She also said she never wanted to show any disrespect to her homeland and will from now on try to portray the Chinese people in a “better light.”
Zuo claimed she had never been told clearly what the video series was going to be about. According to her, everyone on set had spoken Italian, with only one person giving her instructions in English. After being instructed to eat Italian dishes with chopsticks, Zuo had first thought the director was joking. The model also wrote that, as a fairly serious person, she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by the exaggerated acting she was told to do.
The backlash from the campaign caused the abrupt cancelation of the Italian fashion house’s Shanghai fashion show back in November. The incident quickly escalated into a PR disaster after private Instagram messages sent by the company’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana were leaked online. In them, Gabbana called China a “country of sh*t,” among other insults. Gabbana denied ever sending such messages, however, saying that his Instagram account had been hacked.
D&G founders Stefano Gabbana (left) and Domenico Dolce (right). Screengrab via 网易娱乐
Gabbana and his D&G co-founder Domenico Dolce posted an apology video a few days after the incidents occurred, but it didn’t stop many Chinese retailers and consumers from pursuing a boycott against the brand.
Not everyone was impressed by Zuo’s recent apology, with some netizens commenting that the model should only blame herself for not being able to identify the fact the ad contained offensive content.
[Cover image: screengrab via 网易娱乐]