Instagram models slammed for 'pretending' to be black

Kristine Tarbert
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

There are a fair amount of trends going around on social media at any given time, but this latest one making a stir has caused outrage among many.

The trend (if it can be called that) has been dubbed ‘blackfishing’. But while it’s been slammed as ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘racist’, many accused of it have defended themselves, claiming they are not pretending to be a person of colour.

The issue started making headlines this week when an image of what Swedish model Emma Hallberg really looked like was shared on social media and started doing the rounds.

A tweet by a 19-year-old woman named Deja, showed a message she received from one of her followers revealing that Emma was in fact “fully white”.


The image of a very much paler looking Emma was quickly picked up and shared all around social media, including again on Instagram.

“I honestly thought Emma [Hallberg] was half black lol,” one Twitter user commented.

“The girl was clearly posing as black, as she’s posted by many black pages,” one person captioned the image, highlighting the fact that Emma’s images had indeed been shared on pages celebrating women of colour, according to Buzzfeed.


But as Emma’s images were going viral, it quickly became clear she isn’t the only one ‘altering’ her appearance on Instagram.

Numerous white influencers and internet celebs have been called out, having built up followings by posting pictures of themselves rocking cornrows and suspiciously bronzed skin.


Other culprits that have been slammed include YouTuber Mika Francis and Instagrammers Hannah Winifred Tittensor, @liisaleetma, @itsleana___ and @jaiahfern.

Although Emma has since come out to defend herself, claiming she is not trying to be ‘black’, she’s faced backlash from outraged fans, and had to turn off the comments on her social media pages.


“I’ve never claimed or tried to be black or anything else,” Emma told Buzzfeed. “I do not see myself as anything else than white. I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.”

Others have also come out saying they are not trying to pretend to be another race.

“I don’t paint myself, I tan,” Hannah Winifred Tittensor told Huffington post. “I use tanning beds to tan my skin, I do not intend to try and switch races or pretend that I am white.”

Hannah, who still has older images on her Instagram, is barely recognisable.



We’re not sure where this trend came from – some claim the likes of Kylie Jenner with her fake plump lips, or Kim Kardashian with her braids are to blame.

In June 2017, Kim K faced controversy when she was accused of darkening her skin in an ad to promote her new beauty line.

Hopefully it’s one trend that will go away soon. There’s no need to so dramatically alter your appearance to the point where people could be fooled into thinking you are from a different culture.

Love who you are no matter what you look like.

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