According to an article in HuffPost UK, several female social media influencers are darkening their skin colour for the sake of popularity. Though it may be hard to digest for a nation obsessed with fair complexion, but some popular Instagrammers are facing accusations of deliberately appearing racially ambiguous and adopting African-American hairstyles, clothing choices etc, just to be in vogue.
— Romance_Guide (@romance_guide) November 10, 2018
White Women Being Accused & Exposed for Pretending to Be Black Women on Instagram aka #BlackFishing; The Transformations Are Quite Something (Photos) https://t.co/dw7vXz8b0K pic.twitter.com/7lpi0mUAG4
— Robert Littal BSO (@BSO) November 10, 2018
As it is with most incomprehensible Instagram trends, this one too finds its way back to the the Kardashian-Jenner sisters who have time and again faced criticism for appropriating African-American culture.
But many people may be thinking why is this such a big deal? What is just so wrong with appropriating African-American culture, or any native culture for that matter? After all, nothing is more important than Instagram popularity to a certain section of millennials. The influencers facing criticism have immense following and sponsorships and collaborations with many big brands to their name. Who wouldn’t want the perks these women enjoy? All they have to do is tan their skin, wear clothes, hairstyles and make-up which most of us tend to identify with a certain race.
But to understand their anger, you have to understand the struggle and oppression these women face due to that very skin colour
As British YouTuber Fourens pointed out to HuffPost, “They just want to tap into enough blackness to get them ahead whilst maintaining their white privilege.”
Let us try to understand this situation in the Indian context. Say tomorrow, a few social media influencers with fair complexion begin falsifying their skin colour. Perhaps their move results from a hypothetical awakening among Indian masses that darker skin tone is in fact our natural skin tone. Or the majority begins to call shaming women for dark skin as unfair overnight. Or perhaps they just want to be a part of certain conversations or gain a wider fan base on Instagram.
- People are accusing certain Instagram influencers of appropriating dark skin tone for the sake of fame and money, on the platform.
- To understand their anger, you have to understand the oppression these women face due to that very skin colour.
- When people begin to use someone else’s cultural and racial identity for their benefit, you know this is not stupidity but opportunism.
For women who are actually dark, it would feel like someone highjacked a cause they have been fighting for ages. How would they feel, looking at fair women faking their complexion and fetishizing that which was once deemed reprehensible? The racial oppression and abuse African-American women have faced is many folds, and their issue more grievous and complex than this example. Which is why the appropriation of their skin tone for the sake of money and social media popularity seems wrong on so many levels.
For women of colour, their skin tone is a big part of their identity, for which they have to strive even today. But the fame hungry social media influencer brigade seems to stop at nothing.
This isn’t the first time we have come across beauty trends which border on offensive or plain outrageous. From using condom to blend your make-up, to braiding eye-brows, one thought one has seen everything. But when people begin to use someone else’s cultural and racial identity for their benefit, you know this is not stupidity but opportunism. This is identity theft on some level. But more disturbing is how certain skin colour is only acceptable when it is in vogue.
Social media users shouldn’t forget that women with certain skin colour have faced cultural oppression, social rejection and discrimination for many generations. Across continents, it is a struggle for dark toned women to find validation and acceptance. It is unfair to reduce their eternal struggle, by glamorizing their complexion on a seasonal whim. Besides, why should any woman — dark or fair — feel the need to fake her complexion? If we cannot accept our own skin colour, then how do we expect others to do so?
Image Credit: Autumn Goodman, Unsplash
Also Read: How Far Can We Go For Social Media Likes?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own