Have you ever heard of people who were catfished by someone pretending to be someone they're not? Dark times, right?
Well, a few Instagram accounts have taken this cyber-facade culture up a notch and gone as far as colouring their skin tones to make themselves look racially ambiguous to their followers. The original term for this kind of deception is as shocking as the trend itself, but even with purpose of being offensive and calling it blackfishing, the toned-down term doesn't make the craziness of the beauty fad any... lighter.
According to Nylon.com, a Twitter user started posting screenshot examples of white women who purposely made themselves appear darker skinned or racially ambiguous. The user also called for people to send along those they also found and thus a ton of responses of what looks to be young white women altering their skin tone and hair to appear racially ambiguous were shared.
READ MORE: Why the comments about Thando Thabethe's Cosmo cover expose colourism in SA
I literally thought this girl I was following was some light skin black girl but turns out... pic.twitter.com/7oX3luc8Cy— Kitcha Fit-Fit Stan (@ERlTREAN) November 7, 2018
???????????????? pic.twitter.com/f2gMLBXflj— Patty (@patson_manda) November 7, 2018
???????????? pic.twitter.com/y08i5XFH7G— Patty (@patson_manda) November 7, 2018
The comments on these Instagram accounts and the women behind them were somewhat mixed, with some people feeling indifferent about the cosplay, and others feeling rightfully confused and deceived.
Its still the same thread, I get that they tan darker than usual but why can't they be black if they want to? Is that not some kind of racism from the black community?— IG_@Liz_Mboshane (@lizzyy_beee) November 8, 2018
November 7, 2018
The issues of colourism and cultural appropriation have been hot and sensitive topics to tread through over the past several years. There have been countless times when people have taken another culture or the aesthetics of that culture and adopted them as their own for whatever reasons. The women are not only tanning their skins to be browner than they are, but some of them are going as far as to rock cornrows and (fake?) curves to complete the aesthetic.
At first glance, this is cultural appropriation on steroids. The appearance of these women on their Instagram accounts is so close to the aesthetics of black or racially ambiguous women that it is hard to believe that they aren't who they appear to be. From blonde hair and fair skin, to cornrows and a bronze glow, it may seem as though a culture is being usurped for an Instagram feed created to attract a certain follower.
Devan Moonsamy, a diversity advocate and CEO of the I Can Help Africa Foundation, explains that this is a matter of colourism as much as it is about cultural appropriation. He explains that there is a global prevalence of colourism and we're mostly familiar with dark women wanting to be lighter-skinned because of the connotations attached to light skin.
READ MORE: ‘Would Beyoncé and Solange be as popular if they had darker skin?’ – Matthew Knowles
However, Devan adds, "what we've been seeing is that spray-can tanning as well as other tanning trends are becoming increasingly or more-so popular among Caucasian women or women with very pale skin, and not just among women but men too." In the same way that some black people would wish to appear lighter, so do some Caucasian people wish to appear darker than they are.
"There seems to be a level of dissatisfaction, but not as much as African and Asian people who spend a lot more of skin-lightening products. Caucasian people [want] to almost become darker aesthetically and try to look a little bit more bronze to brown to move away from stereotypes" says Devan; stereotypes that cause people who are pale to be victimised as much as darker-skinned people are."
"Pale skinned can appear to be unattractive to white people [and] some people are almost disassociating from their cultures and heritage as the world is becoming smaller," Devan adds. "They manipulate their skin and their culture to be a part of a different demographic. Some people are trying to escape a cultural hierarchy."
What do you think about this new manner of catfishing? Drop us a mail about it here.
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.