Overwatch has unveiled a new legendary skin for Mei, and that hairstyle ain't it.
The MMA-inspired skin MM-Mei appeared on the Overwatch League store yesterday, sporting a fighter's robe, gloves, and championship belt. But it also gives Mei—a Chinese hero—cornrows, a traditionally Black hairstyle.
The inspiration for the hairstyle appears to have come from Zhang Weili, a Chinese MMA fighter who wears her hair in a similar style. Tight braids are common amongst MMA fighters with longer hair, but cornrows are typically not worn by fighters who are not Black.
Put 'em up, MM-Mei is stepping into the ring 🥊Secure this legendary Mei skin TODAY, just in time for the #OWL2021 May Melee!Read more ➡️ https://t.co/4UFOc1uQJq pic.twitter.com/f5PnW9TQE4April 28, 2021
The hairstyle has drawn criticism from players, who pointed out that there are many other MMA-inspired hairstyles to draw from. As well as the issues around cultural appropriation, the fact that a Black hairstyle has made its way into the game before a Black female hero has been a point of criticism. While Overwatch 2 will introduce Sojourn, Blizzard has not released a Black female hero in the game's five-year history.
Blizzard has had a rocky history with the way it's handled diversity and representation in Overwatch. Dorado, a Mexican map, was based on an Italian city. The introduction of Sigma was riddled with harmful and outdated mental health tropes, and the choice to make him barefoot being "to sell the 'asylum' look" (via Polygon).
Blizzard has yet to respond to the feedback, with the MM-Mei skin currently on sale until May 11.