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Exotification: Ethnicity is Not an Accessory.

Note from Zoya

"When Gabi came to me about this shoot I was immediately on board. She explained the concept of me being styled conservatively and luxuriously, and seated between two scantily clad men. It was a flip, a juxtaposition, a commentary on how East Asian women are often overly styled, overly sexualized and not often portrayed as strong, classic and elegant or desirable in high fashion. Coupled with two men on either side of me, eating noodles seductively, and we're further questioning the role women- not just East Asian women- often play in the same ads and editorials.

"she represents the annoyed reaction to a very bizarre fetishization of the Asian female representation"

The message for me was : Ethnicity is not an accessory. Still we see the skin of an African model being manipulated darker or lighter, or used as a palette to contrast bright or white styling. Still we see the East Asian model being called the 'funky' one with over-done, loud makeup and hair and prints. This all while the white model maintains her dignity, versatility, sensual sexuality and desirability. On the flip side, just a few pages further, you might often find that the sexuality of the model of colour in the diversity shoot is decidedly non-existent or overly fetishized (and definitely not sensual); they are dehumanised into weird positions, made alien-like or othered with styling that covers their faces or misshapes them. The contrast is alarming.

Furthermore, they are not often the object of desire, rather painted as the desiree. They are not surrounded by sexy men, that is a throne belonging to the Tom Ford white woman of the 2000s. She is still the highly desired trope of women today. So while outright racism and preference is quickly tamed and wrangled in the fashion world these days, messages of micro-aggression live on in subtle but entrenching imagery. This shoot was an antidote to that, for me. It was thrilling to be on the throne, even for a few hours." - Zoya Pon, model

Note from Gabriella

"Zoya sits between two topless men. The one, a Caucasian male, eats seductively from a bowl of noodles.

Eyes turned upwards, she represents the annoyed reaction to a pop culture phenomenon that's created a very bizarre fetishization of the Asian female representation. Often depicted with seafood, noodle bowls or other culinary items - the Asian woman is too often shown as an overtly sexualized womxn. The image aims to reverse the trope, highlighting its strangeness, via the use of a male being put in that position. All these womxn, albeit in different stages and from different cultures, share the same theme of owning their body and space - reinstating their beauty in their own unique way"- photographer and creative director Gabriella Achadinha

All images are shot on 120mm [Kodak Porta] and 35mm [Agfa Vista]


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