Over the past week, it has come to light that many (white) social influencers are posing as black or biracial in order to gain more followers. They are doing this by using dark facial makeup, some wearing their hair in cornrows and other traditionally black hairstyles, and others allegedly enhancing their bodies, seemingly to look like black women.

The controversy started when a US writer known on Twitter as WannasWorld started a Twitter thread, in which she drew attention to the number of white Instagram influencers “cosplaying” as black women.

One influencer that earned the most attention is nineteen-year-old Emma Hallberg. Emma amassed a huge following, selling beauty products and posting stylish selfies. However, Twitter users unearthed a picture of Hallberg in 2016 and discovered that she is in fact, a fresh -faced white girl.

When confronted about this sudden revelation, Hallberg denied all claims to be ‘posing as a coloured person’, instead she insists that her drastic change in skin tone is due to change in seasons and the fact that she tans easily”

Unsurprisingly, many are not convinced. This sudden ‘trend’ can have negative effects on many black people – mainly adolescents. Many see being black as a fashion trend. The darker your skin, the more beautiful you are; this is the main cause of blackface and blackfishing. Although black complexions are finally getting the recognition they deserve, people do not understand the extent of the situation.

Not only is this cultural appropriation, but blackfishers want the benefits of a darker complexion without facing the brunt that black people face day to day.

Young impressionable teens will see these influencers and will grow up thinking this is okay. That if they are black, their complexion, and features, is simply a trend that will eventually pass; or that if they are white, they can darken their skin in order to become popular.

Is this a world we want our future teens to grow up in?