Dangling from the necks of mainstream fashion consumers is a jewelry option deemed highly culturally insensitive and offensive by fashion bloggers and industry consumers, and the item can be purchased at Forever 21, a popular retail clothing store operated by an Asian family.
Forever 21 selling a necklace called "Oriental Girl" necklace for $1.50. It features a cartoon charm of a young Asian girl with a white face and a dark bun. The public has expressed anger at the major retailer for its alleged ignorance to the many slighting subliminal messages the necklace sends to the female Asian community and beyond.
The accessory's generic title is part of the reason people are outraged. Washington D.C.-based Angela Chang posted a petition letter to Change.org titled "Forever 21 Inc: Immediately Remove Offensive Oriental Girl Necklace."
The letter says, "The word 'Oriental' in reference to a person became politically incorrect a long time ago, it's shocking that Forever 21 does not see anything wrong with marketing these culturally offensive products.
Chang's letter also says, "As an Asian-American woman, I am incredibly appalled to walk into a large multi-national clothing company – one that is owned by a Korean family no less – marketing towards young woman selling such culturally insensitive products."
One person commented that they signed the petition letter because they feel that one of the harmful messages the controversial accessory feeds the public is the idea that society has an unspoken standard that says Asian woman are supposed to look a certain way, a standard that in her opinion has the potential to lead to insecurity and increased stereotypes of both Asian women and women from other cultures.
She writes, "As an Asian American woman, I refuse to let fashion companies say that the way I look is suddenly 'unacceptable' (because I don't look like the figure on the necklace) or, on the flip side, that it's suddenly ok to look the way I do (because to look Asian and Asian-American wasn't acceptable before)."
The petition also says, "To see Forever 21 making a profit off these stereotypes is wrong. Forever 21 should remove these products immediately."
Forever 21, run by the Chang family, devout Christians, notes on its main website that the company "is committed to supporting diversity within our corporation and sharing this commitment with our community."