Chinese microblogging platform Weibo is abuzz over three new spokesmodels that Victoria’s Secret announced this week for China and greater Asia.
The campaign, which calls for buyers to “redefine sexy,” announced A-list actresses Zhou Dongyu and Yang Mi as spokesmodels for China and Asia respectively, alongside supermodel He Sui. Experts argue that after years of financial struggles in China, the lingerie brand appears to be pivoting away from their overtly sexy image, and instead advertising comfort and confidence.
A post on their official Weibo account reads: “Follow the pace of the times and break the traditional definition of ‘sexiness.’ […] With an independent and confident attitude, reap your share of sexiness and charm.”
Yang Mi and Zhou Dongyu for Victoria’s Secret
The selection of actresses over models marks a rare move for the American lingerie brand, and overall netizens are rallying behind the choice. Many reacted with surprise and praise especially around the recruitment of thin, “fresh-faced” Zhou, who first appeared in Zhang Yimou’s Under the Hawthorn Tree in 1993, and more recently starred in anti-bullying drama Better Days with Jackson Yee.
“I like Zhou Dongyu’s interpretation very much. In the past, Victoria’s Secret gave me the feeling of vulgar porn,” wrote one Weibo user under the hashtag “Zhou Dongyi endorses Victoria’s Secret” (#周冬雨代言维 密#), which now sits at over two million views. A similar hashtag for Yang Mi (#杨幂代言维密#) has garnered over 12 million.
Zhou Dongyu in the China-facing Victoria’s Secret campaign: “Being your most comfortable self, that’s sexy”
While praise seemingly abounds for these three women, netizens have not always been so kind to Chinese spokesmodels for Western brands. In 2019, backlash brewed first over a freckled model in in a Zara campaign — and months later, a different model featured in Vogue — over how Western brands and outlets select Chinese beauty. Some argued that these Chinese models were being singled out for their “weird” looks, while others retorted that beauty in China was more diverse than people gave it credit for.
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