RaceSex & Gender

model denies ‘n*ggerfishing’, but we see you

November 16, 2018
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I was enjoying another leisurely weekend when I first heard the term “n*ggerfishing” and I damn near clutched my pearls.  If you missed it, let me explain: white woman on Instagram and Twitter are “presenting” themselves as Black and brown women of color. Perplexing as it is, what exactly do white women think they’re doing? Are they even conscious of their appropriative looks or are they adopting what white woman aesthetic has become? Simply, are these white women consciously mimicking blackness or have famous, wealthy white women exploited black aesthetic so feverishly that some white women around the world don’t see it as a black aesthetic, but the aesthetic. Really, how much time and effort does the average white women spend in understanding and observing Black culture directly? Instead of direct imitation, at this point, there is a sort of Blackface trickle down from mainstream white culture. White womanhood has been reshaped by celebrities like professional prom queen Kim Kardashian, Iggy Azalea, and Amber Rose;. With a trio of non-Black women who commodified Black cultural productions and built personas and empires off of them.

So, what do the folks engaged in this ‘N*ggerfish’craze think when they see the likes of Kim Kardashian, or her little sister, the fully white Kylie Jenner? Once a square-bodied teenager, Kylie launched her beauty empire and risque persona with an (alleged) full-body plastic surgery makeover. Let’s keep it real: Kylie—taking notes from her big sister Kim—peeped the culture cultivated by Black women and adopted it.

Still, we know good and well that performing Blackness as a sideshow, as a trick even, didn’t start with Kim K or the rest. Historically, White folks have wore our identities for entertainment and cruel humiliation. From minstrel shows featuring blackface performances to Sambo caricaturing—they’re obsessed with us. N*ggerfishing is the resulting beast born of anti-Black ugliness. Whether the women perpetrating it know it or not.

Swedish Instagram model Emma Hallberg is one persona who attributes her dark looks to spray tans and self-tanner possess a curiously deep complexion while sporting Black girl Tumblr aesthetic and the niche DIY beauty supply aesthetic Black girls have been perfecting for 20 years while being labeled as bad and “ghetto”.

Am I supposed to pretend that this isn’t wild as fuck? She’s painting on a different complexion, y’all…and Black women are SHOOK. Some of these black and mixed-presenting chicks are so skilled that real-deal Black girls are even confusing them for the real thing. Women like Deja, who was one of the first to “out” this Rachel Dolezal spoke to The Cut and said: “Finding out Emma was white was so shocking due to the fact that this girl has done everything to look the part of a mixed black girl.”


View this post on Instagram


Neon colors always makes you look summer tanned 😩😭 Hair: @aligracehair_1 ✨ Dress: @the.collection.company 💥

A post shared by EMMA HALLBERG (@eemmahallberg) on Nov 2, 2018 at 11:51am PDT

“I genuinely believed this girl was Afro-Latina,” said 19-year-old woman named Deja, who was one of the first to out Hallberg. “She had been mimicking black features and getting famous for it. She has been darkening her skin several tones deeper than her natural shade, braiding her hair to make it look similar to mixed people’s curl pattern, and even been featured on Instagram accounts made for black hair styles and spotlighting black women. The sad part is she really fooled everyone into believing she was a mixed girl.”  

Emma has spoken to Buzzfeed News about all of this and while she admits to using self-tanner and spray-tans, she claims that it was never her intention to pass as another race. “I do not see myself as anything else than white,” she said. “I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.”


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Top from @boohoo 🐆🔥 use “EMMAH” for money off ✨

A post shared by EMMA HALLBERG (@eemmahallberg) on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:59pm PDT

At the end of the day, it does not matter what Emma—and others like her—think about how her aesthetic choices harm the very people she intentionally or unintentionally appropriates from to look how she wants to look. I doubt any of that will matter as long as self-tanner and lip kits are on the market. And, frankly, who could blame them for trying to be us? We’re dope as hell.