A noticeably darker Kim Kardashian is gracing the March cover of Vogue magazine, which is released in February, uncomfortably coinciding with Black History Month. The American monthly fashion magazine and reality TV star received intense backlash on social media, with users accusing Kardashian of "blackfishing" in the visuals that heavily draw on black influences.
"Blackfishing" is the act of using hairstyles and makeup to create and enhance certain features to appear as though you have black heritage or are racially ambiguous. The term took shape in a Twitter thread two years ago when journalist Wanna Thompson wanted to refer to celebrities and influencers who imitate black women to make themselves seem more exotic. In reality, this cultural appropriation in no way pays respect to the target culture.
Diet Prada, Instagram's fashion watchdog, revealed the uncanny resemblance between the pictures of Kardashian in Vogue and images of singer-songwriter Nina Simone channeling Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, with the heavy eye makeup, crown, jewels and even the angle all seemingly drawn from the Simone shoot. In the post, Diet Prada also compares images in which Kardashian seemingly mimics Naomi Campbell and Beyonce, women who are prominent advocates of black culture. However, one size does not fit all.
The side profile shot has been notably utilized by black women throughout history in the Afrocentrism movement that aims to consciously introduce the black culture.
Last year Kardashian was accused of blackfishing once again in a campaign for her beauty line, KKW Beauty, and faced allegations she was exploiting black women's style.
Cultural critics decried the images as another form of "blackface," arguing that they evoke feelings stemming from a racist and painful history.