On Tuesday, Madonna launched her skincare line, MDNA, in the United States after three years on the Japanese market. The products range from $50-$600 (yes that’s the real price) and will be sold at Barneys New York and Beverly Hills locations and online via Barneys and her website according to WWD. But there’s one problem: her lack of sensitivity in her new advertisement toward East Asian women. The video ad features the pop singer and comedian Josh Otrovsky, popularly know as “The Fat Jew” pampered in an all-white spa and using the MDNA products. It also features three East Asian women, who silently attend to the two – one massages Otrovsky and two painting their nails. It’s the ever too common stereotype of Asian women who do the dirty work of making sure you and your nails are well looked after. This feature may be overlooked because the majority of workers in spas are Asian women. Japanese, London based musician Rina Sawayama thinks this is the problem.; in an article written for i-D, Sawayama points out the problems that go unnoticed in the industry from low pay ridicule from customers to trafficking.
“In major cities many E/SE Asian immigrants are often relegated to the lowest ranks in the beauty industry with little to no prospect for upwards mobility: in 2015 a New York Times article revealed that manicurists in New York City were routinely underpaid and exploited, and endure ethnic bias and abuse” she wrote. “Last year, the UK raided 280 nail salons across the country and found hundreds of victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Modern slavery.”
Why profit off of a stereotype with all of this happening? It is important to see beyond the glamour of the brand and recognize the racist and privilege messages she communicated through the video. With someone with such influence, going against stereotypes and societal norms is valuable. To watch the video, click here.