Want to be a sushi chef or geisha for Halloween? Many Asian Americans would find that pretty offensive. But that didn't stop Pottery Barn Kids from offering said costumes for sale in the weeks leading up to fright night.
At least until the retailer appeared to remove the outfits from its website this week in response to pressure from the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice:
A rep for the group told us:
As of this morning, it appears that the links to the two products in questions had been removed from the company's web site.
The organization sent a letter to Pottery Barn decrying the costumes, companions to kids' versions that the group didn't seem to have as much of a problem with. (The children's sushi outfit was an actual simulation of sushi).
Ling Woo Liu, director of communications for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, writes:
Our problem is not with the attire itself; it is with the fact that Pottery Barn is marketing these outfits as costumes. As a student-led campaign in 2011 put it, "We're a
culture, not a costume.
Like other minorities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are real people who cannot and should not be commodified as Halloween costumes. There is a history in this country of using caricatures to reinforce stereotypes of minorities as perpetual foreigners who are somehow less "American" than white Americans.
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The kimono costume was discounted from $59 to $34.99 before it was pulled from the Pottery Barn Kids site. The sushi chef went from $39 to a low, low $9.99 before it disappeared.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice says the company never responded directly to its letter. We reached out to a publicist for parent company Williams-Sonoma but had yet to hear back.