GQ cover
GQ magazine's 100 Hottest Women of the 21st Century list criticised for arbitrarily pointing out some of women's ethnicities (GQ)

The US edition of GQ magazine has become embroiled in a racism row after describing Freida Pinto as a "hot Indian chick" and MIA as a "hot pregnant Sri Lankan" in its list of the 100 Hottest Women of the 21st Century.

The men's magazine was slammed as racist and sexist after printing the race-specific statements in its latest issue and mentioning only some of the winners' ethnicities.

Critics insisted that the publication's inclusion of titles such as Sexiest Chinese Chick, Sexiest Indian Chick and Sexiest Pregnant Sri Lankan suggested that some stars were "only attractive in the context of their own ethnicity".

While Beyoncé Knowles, who topped GQ's list and featured on the cover, was not racially identified, Slumdog Millionaire star Pinto was labelled the "hot Indian chick" and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon actress Zhang Ziyi was "one hot Chinese chick".

"It's no surprise that men's magazines sell so well in part because they feature women in racy, tantalising photos," wrote Elise Sole, of Yahoo's women's lifestyle blog Shine. "But reducing some women to tokens of their race (and curiously not others) is a new low."

Prof Ruth White,  from Seattle University's Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work, said: "If the magazine were saying, 'These are all the beautiful women from every country in the world' that would be a bit different; that's what the Miss Universe pageant is all about.

"But by calling out certain women's ethnicity and not others what they're implying is that these women are not beautiful simply because they're beautiful; they're only attractive within the context of their own ethnicity.

"This is qualifying their beauty and dismisses the idea that beauty comes in many different forms."

The debate quickly moved to social media with readers concurring that the categories were offensive.

Jorge Rivas, a writer for the Applied Research Center's Colorlines.com, noted that none of the black or Latina women on the list was singled out for their ethnicity - perhaps because editors realised "hottest black chick" wouldn't fly.

Andrew Jenkins, an activist focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues at Choice USA in Washingto,n tweeted: "Total [racist, sexist] fail."