It is not okay to make fun of Asian facial features. And, Gigi, you owe us an apology

Gigi Hadid is accused of being “racist” for “mocking Asian people” after video of her squinting her eyes next to a Buddha goes viral. 

This past weekend, Bella Hadid shared a now-deleted video of her sister allegedly mocking Asian facial features. Though the video was quickly deleted, a fan account for Gigi’s boyfriend, Zayn Malik, downloaded and shared the now-viral video. In it, Gigi Hadid is seen holding up a Buddha-shaped cookie, while squinting her eyes to mock Asian eyes.

The comment sections were flooded with replies, labeling Gigi as “ignorant” and “rude”.

Her mother, Yolanda Hadid, then immediately stepped in to defend her daughter’s actions. She tweeted, “Only a toxic mind would perceive hugging a chocolate laughing Buddha as racist.”

As an Asian-American monolid individual, Yolanda’s comments and Gigi’s actions are both hurtful and infuriating. So Yolanda, let me tell you why your daughter’s actions are definitely “racist”

First, mocking Asian eyes are no different than mocking another race for their skin color. The Huffington Post recently posted a blog article, also replying to this controversy, “This little stunt is actually mocking the physical features of an entire race… Gigi’s mockery alienates Asians for having different eyes. Does she not understand that this feature is part of who we are as a people and part of what makes us unique? You wouldn’t make fun of someone for their skin colour — because that would be racist — so why should this be any different? Belittling someone for their facial features is wrong, and in 2017, you shouldn’t have to be reminded of that.” Her ten second action might seem like an innocent like joke, but it is a clear act of racism- and is NOT okay.

Also, making fun of “chinky eyes” has real-world repercussions. As an individual who has grown up with monolids, I have faced numerous comments asking “why I was always squinting” or “if I could open my eyes”. I have tried double eyelid tape, glue, and other numerous tools to adopt this “western idea of beauty”. And I have fought with the insecurity that I was not beautiful enough simply because my eyes do not have an additional fold. It is because of ignorant comments/actions like Gigi’s that individual’s with smaller eyes feel the pressure to undergo plastic surgery. And rather than embracing this beautiful and unique facial feature, an obsession with double eyelid surgery has seen around the world.

Her ten second action might seem like an innocent like joke, but it is a clear act of racism- and is NOT okay.

Her boyfriend, Zayn Malik, also replied to a fan a few hour later who asked, “being of Asian descent, how do you feel about your girlfriend making fun of Asian people?” Zayn promptly replied, “Trust me… she likes Asians.” Rather than focusing on the issue, Zayn’s comment is simply neglecting the issue at hand- and is arguing the same logic that “If I have black friends, I can’t be racist”. The fact that Gigi is involved in a relationship with an “Asian individual” does not make her actions any less racist than it is. And regardless of her feelings towards Asian individuals, she needs to acknowledge that her actions were racist and wrong.

Gigi Hadid has not yet responded to this controversy, but Gigi, you owe us an apology.