Why The Blackfishing Trend Is A Problem For Me

Erica Knight, Writer

Blackfishing is a problematic style trend in the white community. It consists of the darkening or tanning of the skin, and the use of foundation significantly darker, to appear to give a person an ‘afrocentric’ appearance. Some have gone as far to say that it’s an act of modern day blackface.
Above is an example of blackfishing. Emma Hallberg, Swedish influencer, appears to have darker skin and a curlier hair texture (right). The picture on the left shows her natural hair and skin tone.

The first of case of blackfishing came from a college Sophomore, Deja, whose story was taken up by “Teen Vogue.” Deja told “Teen Vogue”  that Emma Hallberg, who she believed to be a light skinned black woman, was indeed not an African American woman, but a Swedish woman. 

I find the idea of blackfishing totally insulting. It is a racist trend because of its double standards. White people are praised if they have ‘black’ features such as big lips, round noses, and big curly hair, but if the roots that run through your veins are African, and you were born with these features you go unrecognized.  If a black woman wears braids or wigs, it’s because she’s either bald or ‘ghetto’, but if anyone outside of the African American race wears braids, it’s a fashion statement. For example, in the year 2017 Kim Kardashian made an Instagram post showing off her new hairdo, and coined her hairstyle “boxer braids”.  

The black community was enraged. “Boxer braids” had been apart of the African culture since 3000 B.C and they are called cornrows, or canerows in the Caribbean. After Kim felt the black community’s fire she made a response; “My braids are inspired by Bo Derek,” a Caucasian actress. But I feel Kim wasn’t giving credit to black people who suffered to embrace their cornrows.


*Cornrow, an ancient African traditional style of hair grooming*

White culture can take our hairstyles and our features, but it will never be able to go through our struggle with self love. From a young age, African Americans have the ideology that if you aren’t white you aren’t beautiful. We’ve been called ugly, monkeys, and tarbabies for our skintone. We have been exposed to it so much that our own community has reinforced it to oppress their own race. That self hate has a deep history rooted in slavery when lighter skinned slaves were treated better than dark skinned slaves. Lighter skinned slaves worked in the comforts of their masters’ homes while the darker toned slaves work restlessly in the field, engulfed by the beaming sun, for hours on end. So even if you’re ridiculed in the white community but you resemble a color close to white, you are praised in your community. Us darker toned black women never get a break.

When white women tan and cornrow their hair, it is viewed as a fashion breakthrough. But as a black, cornrowed woman, it is perceived as ugly. That’s a double standard. We have learned overtime to love our blackness, and people have to become aware to our struggles and respect us for the deep history of discrimination that has been linked to race. Blackfishing is the denial of history and the disrespect of our customs. I’ve earned my black features, my hair, may it be in cornrows or in its kinky curly state because I’ve felt the racism and been through the self hate. A white woman hasn’t earned hers and most likely never will.

Although blackfishing is extremely disrespectful, I still feel some sense of gratification. I’ve hated my features for so long and, now it’s the standard for beauty. No matter how degrading it is, they boost my confidence, seeing that people want to be me more than I want to be me is more than dignifying to me.