Pop singer Ariana Grande is being accused of Asian-fishing, which is when a non-Asian attempts to look Asian for their profit or benefit, after new photos of her were release online.
In one of the photos, Grande is donning in an oversized blazer and sits crouched down, holding her knees in front of a wall. Niena, who goes by @kuzumi.n on TikTok, posted a video that gained over 94,000 views in just 10 hours, describing how Ariana looks Asian in these photos. Niena points out Grande’s “innocent posing,” little bows and color of her lipstick to be too close to K-pop beauty.
Niena then compares Grande’s picture to a similar-looking K-pop star. “They look a little too similar especially considering that Ariana Grande is a white woman.”
The photos come via photographer Katia Temkin, who posted them to Instagram this week.
In a later comment, Niena elaborates that part of what makes Grande’s photo problematic is the “theme of innocence is often used in the fetishization of East Asian Women. Like school girls.” In the Western world, Asian women commonly face over-sexualized stereotypes of being submissive. They’re also often lumped together as a monolith even though there are many cultures in Asia.
Some people agreed with Niena in the comments, saying they thought it was an Asian woman at first. “BRUH I didn’t even realize the first two were Ariana Grande,” @ttoorriifoxx wrote. “I legit thought it was a random Kpop Singer.”
“For celebrities, every pic is choice is done to achieve a specific look or aesthetic,” @niixollg wrote. “Editing out her eyelids and making her skin lighter was INTENTIONAL.”
Others came to Grande’s defense. “It honestly just looks too overexposed and undefined? not edited out,” @cconnollyw wrote.
Oli London, a white influencer who calls themselves transracial and identifies as Korean after undergoing plastic surgeries to “look Korean,” posted on Twitter praising Grande’s “new Asian look.” In their caption, London wrote: “It looks so cute and oriental. Welcome to the TRANSRACIAL club Ari, so happy to have you join me.”
In a viral TikTok, Mina, who goes by the username @min.aaaa1, responded to London’s tweet and pleaded for Grande to change her new look. “If I was Ariana Grande, this would send me off the edge. Voluntarily, I would jump off,” she said in the video. Mina later said she would stop trying to look Asian if she were Grande.
This isn’t the first time Grande, who says she is Italian, has been accused of cultural appropriation. Grande has been called out for blackfishing, or appearing to look black when you aren’t by copying beauty styles, for having very tan skin. Other TikTokers called her out on the platform amid similar concerns.
As of Dec. 6, Grande’s representatives have not released a statement on the photos so it’s unknown whether or not Grande was trying to look Asian. Regardless, as a white woman, her white privilege allows her to pretend to be black, Asian or Latina and profit off of those looks while also not experiencing the discrimination and systemic racism that comes with those identities.
We’ve reached out to Grande’s team.
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