Freckled Zara Ad Causes Controversy in China


Zara is currently the centre of controversy in China because of an ad that featured a freckled model.  According to some Chinese internet user, the freckled Zara ad is extremely racist. They have been accused of “uglifying China” by the Chinese internet users. Zara is the latest fashion brand that has been called out by the Chinese internet for being racist. Most recently Dolce & Gabbana was also tagged racist by the Chinese Internet for an ad that showed a Chinese woman eating Italian with chopsticks.

About the Freckled Zara Ad Controversy

The freckled Zara ad controversy started when they posted the ad on Zara’s Weibo account. The freckled Zara ad, which was made to promote the brand’s new lipstick and lip glaze series featured Chinese model Li Jingwen. The ad shows Li Jingwen with minimal makeup which revealed her freckles. The freckled Zara ad angered a lot of Chinese internet users, many labelled the ad racist for “Uglifying China”. They were accused of defaming the beauty of Chinese women. Though the ad received a lot of backlash, other Chinese Internet users came to the brand’s defence, stating that the picture is realistic and authentic. Supporters of the freckled Zara ad stated that the public should be more open to different aesthetics. They called for the public to be more tolerant of imperfect faces rather than accepting edited or air photos.

The controversy surrounding the freckled Chinese ad comes because, for many decades, the Chinese beauty standards have preferred clear pale skin. For decades the Chinese have favoured unblemished skin as a beauty norm. Most advertisers have also helped to reinforce this beauty standard. This beauty norm isn’t just limited to China but spreads to the wider East Asia.

Zara Speaks about the Freckled Zara Ad Controversy

A Zara spokeswoman spoke to Chinese internet news portal She stated that the fashion brand had no intention of offending the Chinese people or making the model look ugly. The spokeswoman stated that the fashion brand likes to depict models as they naturally look.  She stated that the aesthetics of the Spanish people are different stating that their models are photographed purely. The pictures aren’t normally changed or modified. She also informed the news portal that the ad wasn’t solely for the Chinese market but was a global campaign.

The model Li Jingwen hasn’t responded to the controversy, but in the past, she has shared the insecurities she had because of her freckles. Speaking to Vogue magazine in 2016, she stated that when she was little she hated them because Asians didn’t have them. She also stated that she tried to cover them up but that she likes them now.


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