An Instagram model identified as Emma Hallberg has been criticised by her followers, who have called her out for cultural appropriation. Social media are claiming the 19-year-old Swedish model has been “pretending to be black” in her popular photos and videos, but she claims this isn’t the case.
Emma is frequently seen sporting an incredibly tanned complexion and has previously appeared on Instagram pages for black models so many people assumed she was a black woman.
However last week someone on Twitter revealed that she is in fact white and people lost their minds over it. A user named Dee shared a screenshot of a message she received which read: “Hey, we don’t know each other, but I just wanted to let you know that this girl you follow is fully white.”
More than 12,000 people retweeted her post and over 29,000 users liked it. Some asked whether her pictures could be considered blackface, while others have started referring to the whole situation as “blackfishing”, a twist on the bizarre dating trend “catfishing”, in which people pretend to be someone they’re not.
Since the backlash began, Emma who has 207,000 Instagram followers, has received a wave of abuse and has since turned off comments on her social media.
She later shared an explanation for her appearance in her Instagram stories. She wrote: “Before I explain all this that has been going on over these last few days. I turned my comments off because the only type of comments I got was either threatening or very hateful.”
She then shared two photos of herself, one on the left showing her with a very fair complexion and the other of her looking very bronzed.
“You’ve probably seen these two pictures beside each other all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where they are called the ‘before and after’.
“The left picture was taken two years ago right before summer with barely any make-up and my hair straightened.”The right picture was taken in July right after I came home from a vacation, with make-up.
“I’ve been accused of doing frequent spray tans, taking melatonin, getting hair perms and lip injections and many more. When I haven’t done anything of the above.”
She went on to post selection of photos taken between 2016 and 2018, all showing her skin looking the same colour – which she says is due to a natural tan from the sun.