Is Megan Rapinoe racist? Soccer player's old tweet about 'Asian eyes' sparks outrage

In the controversial May 2011 tweet, Megan Rapinoe reportedly told Natasha Kai, a fellow US Women's Soccer team member, 'u look Asian with those closed eyes'

                            Is Megan Rapinoe racist? Soccer player's old tweet about 'Asian eyes' sparks outrage
Megan Rapinoe (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Megan Rapinoe has been accused of racism just a day after she became the face of Victoria's Secret after one of her old tweets resurfaced in which she made a racist comment against a team member of Asian descent.

In the controversial May 2011 tweet, Rapinoe reportedly told Natasha Kai, a fellow US Women's Soccer team member of Asian descent, "u look Asian with those closed eyes." Rapinoe, a firebrand for equal gender pay and queer rights, received pushback on social media for the resurfaced tweet, which had not been deleted at the time of writing.




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While it wasn't immediately clear who Rapinoe was referring to in her tweet, especially because the Twitter account for Kai, who is of Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese and Caucasian descent, has since been deleted. This came just a day after it was announced that Rapinoe had been chosen as Victoria's Secret's new brand spokesperson.

Natasha Kai #6 of United States controls the ball during the Women's Football Gold Medal match between Brazil and the United States on Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008, at Worker's Stadium in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Rapinoe said in an interview with the New York Times that Victoria's Secret was "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired."

She added, "And it was very much marketed toward younger women."

Megan Rapinoe of the USA celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019, in Paris, France. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The lingerie brand announced plans to work with a new group of women in a bid to reflect diversity and inclusivity on Wednesday, June 23. However, it faced considerable pushback after people dug up the soccer player's tweet. "@VictoriasSecret this is your model? What do you think of this take?" wrote one person. "My husband is Asian. His eyes don't look closed unless he's sleeping," another added. "Preaching about racial stereotyping but comes out with this beauty," a third chimed in. "Does @VictoriasSecret stand for anti-Asian hate???" wrote another. One tweet remarked, "Now let’s hope the canceller gets canceled Taste of your own medicine".






Victoria's Secret is hoping to reinvent its "sexy" image and replace it with something more in line with "women empowerment." The lingerie maker decided to replace its trademark models, popularly known as "Victoria’s Secret Angels" who walked a year-end fashion show with flamboyant wings to go with the lingerie they modeled. The appeal was evident in terms of projecting the Angels as the benchmark that every woman should aspire to be and whom every man wanted to be with, but with a new line-up to be the face of the company, Victoria's Secret culture is setting new standards.

Ming Xi, Grace Elizabeth, Cindy Bruna, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Alexina Graham walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018, in New York City (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)

According to The New York Times, aside from soccer star Rapinoe, 35, the new line-up includes Eileen Gu, 17-year-old Chinese American freestyle skier and soon-to-be Olympian; Paloma Elsesser, 29-year-old biracial model and inclusivity advocate; and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a 38-year-old Indian actor, and tech investor.

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the former head of Victoria’s Secret’s international business who was appointed chief executive of the brand said in February. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want," he added.

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