Why the Term "Blackfishing" is Becoming a Trend

A new trend has hit instagram and boy, is it controversial. If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook recently, you may have noticed people talking about Blackfishing. Although there is no official dictionary definition, Blackfishing is the term being used to define a new trend in which women who are not of a black decent are using unnatural ways (i.e. editing, tanning, etc) to make themselves look darker than they are. The term was sparked after an aspiring instagram model from Sweden, named Emma Hallberg started posting multiple photos like the ones below:

Her followers quickly noticed how Emma went from being extremely light to extremely dark toned within such a short amount of time. When asked about the situation, Emma stated on her Instagram that she looks this way because she tans easily and that’s just what she looks like naturally. But with Emma being an aspiring model, you can’t help but wonder if what she says is genuine or if she is trying to profit off of her looks. Even though she claims to not try to be black, she has liked posts from accounts that have only promoted her because they thought she was black.

We don’t know Emma’s full genetic history and we don’t know what she has or hasn’t had done to her body. However, what we do know is that there is an inconsistency in her skin tone throughout her page. The entire situation is a little fishy (no pun intended), and Emma isn’t the only one to be called out on the matter, either.

Another instagram model, Jaiden Gumby (pictured above) was also posting pictures of her in a weave and an extremely dark spray tan that has made her look completely different than who she is naturally. Unlike Emma, Jaiden has apologised and deleted those photos off her account, but like everything on the internet, the pictures still live on. As more and more influencers follow this trend, the conversation has been sparked on cultural appropriation, and whether or not this is the “new - aged black face”.

Some say that this idea of Backfishing is coming about due to the shift in beauty standards. With social media being a gateway that brings people from all over the world together, it brings in new exposure of diversity and people's ideals of beauty are starting to change and morph. With the beauty industry now glorifying features of other cultures, it’s very easy for people to do things that are racially insensitive. However, this is not an excuse. For decades women of color were originally ridiculed and couldn’t get paid modeling jobs for the way that they looked. And now those same features are being glorified and used to make profit off of by white women. It’s one thing to tan or edit your pictures, but how far is too far?