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Karlie Kloss apologizes for controversial geisha-themed Vogue shoot

Why styling the model in traditional Japanese clothing leaves a bad impression.
/ Source: TODAY

Vogue's March issue is under fire once again. The "Modern American Woman" issue ― with a cover featuring an ensemble of models from different ethnic backgrounds ― was supposed to be a celebration of diversity. After receiving criticism for not being more inclusive of plus-sized models, the magazine is now receiving backlash for a photo shoot featuring Karlie Kloss dressed up as a geisha.

The spread titled "Spirited Away" features the 24-year-old Caucasian model dressed in kimonos, with a black wig done up in the Japanese Shimada style worn by geishas. In one photo, she is posing with a sumo wrestler. Photographer Mikael Jansson posted a photo of Kloss on Instagram lying in a tub with the signature pale white makeup and red lips also worn by geishas.

The images hit the web with immediate backlash. Many expressed concern over the decision to feature a white model in an Asian-themed photo shoot.

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Karlie Kloss later apologized on Twitter, writing: "These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive. My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission."

This isn't the first time a white woman has been chosen to portray an Asian role. The backlash from this Vogue shoot follows controversies over the decision to cast Tilda Swinton as a Tibetan character in the film "Doctor Strange," and Emma Stone as a mixed-race character of Chinese descent in "Aloha."

Vogue Magazine is also not a stranger to controversy. In 2011, Italian Vogue issued an apology following criticism of a slideshow titled "Slave Earrings." The slideshow — which featured large circular hoop earrings — was accused of glamorizing slavery. French Vogue also came under fire for an October 2009 issue that featured Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface.