I generally assume that the only people reading my blog are my mother and a handful of friends. So every now and then I'm surprised to find that there are other readers as well. A recent posting on the "Chin Family" collection designed for Alessi by Stefano Giovannoni with the collaboration of Rumiko Takeda, got a response from "Matteo Alessi."
Although I feel slightly guilty for badmouthing the brand (I really do love most of the Alessi products!) as a friend of mine pointed out, I expressed a legitimate point of view. Out of curiosity, I did a google search to see if others feel the same way. Both JustHungry and yumsugar bring up similar issues about the racial connotations of "Chin Family" products, so at least I'm not alone in my concerns! According to my friend, just because it's legitimized by an Asian government, does not mean there isn't a lot of social baggage associated with the images used in the "Chin Family" design.
Whether the collection is truly "inspired" by "shape and figure" of other cultures or by the recent wave of adoration for all things "oriental," the end product remains somewhat insensitive to the racial associations with the Asian 'slit eyed' image. I would also like to add that the 'slit eye' representation only came into being after the Western world made contact with Asia. Let's turn that concept over in our heads...just because this is old racism, does that make it ok?
p.s. Interestingly, one of my favorite blogs, Hostess with the Mostest just published on these funny looking kitchen oddities!
Image lifted from www.alessi.com