Ariana Grande has been accused of ‘Asianfishing’ after she posted – and deleted – a series of photos from a recent shoot. In the pics, the 28-year-old singer wore her signature winged eyeliner, paired with a red lip and slicked-back hair. But, the photos didn’t go down well with some people, with claims she had altered her appearance to ‘look more Asian’. But others have jumped to her defence saying that calling her out for these photos is racist in itself.

The term ‘Asianfishing’ is derived from ‘Blackfishing’, a phrase first used by journalist Wanna Thompson back in 2018. Thompson took to Twitter at the time to call out celebrities and influencers who she believed to be ‘cosplaying’ black women on social media. “Blackfishing is when white public figures, influencers and the like do everything in their power to appear black,” Thompson later told CNN. “Whether that means to tan their skin excessively [and/or] wear hairstyles and clothing trends that have been pioneered by black women.”

Over the years, Grande herself has been accused of ‘Blackfishing’, with some calling out how her skin tone in recent years looked more tanned than when she appeared on Nickelodeon’s VICTORiOUS in the early 2010s. Although, she has never publicly addressed the allegations.

This week, her appearance came under the microscope once again, as people took to social media to comment on how her features looked different in her latest photoshoot. In one post, which has since gone viral, TikTok user Victoria Alexander shared screenshots of the photos in question. “I’m not saying that Ariana Grande has moved on from ‘Blackfishing’ to ‘Asianfishing’,” Alexander said, “but I am say it took me longer than expected to realise that this is her.”

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She continued, “I understand that celebrities will change up their look from time to time. But this is giving change up of phenotype,” referring to the singer as a “racial chameleon” in the video’s caption.

But Alexander wasn’t alone in her thoughts, with plenty of others heading to the comments section to share their opinion on Grande’s appearance. “As a long time fan, this was disappointing to realise. There’s no denying it,” wrote one TikTok user, with another commenting: “Love her but can’t defend her.”

But others have jumped to her defence, with one fan saying on Twitter that the comments were from non-Asian people but that many Asians and South East Asians didn’t notice. While another pointed out that Ariana respects Asian cultures and cultures around the world. Others have also said that her skin would be lighter in winter, or could be down to the camera flash.

Some people also pointed out how the photos had been praised by Oli London – a British, caucasian person who has been open about undergoing extensive plastic surgery to look like Korean pop-star,’ Jimin. London defines themselves as “transracial” and has been at the centre of their own controversy for a number of years.

“I’m so in love with @ArianaGrande’s new Asian look,” London wrote on Twitter, “It looks so cute and oriental. Welcome to the TRANSRACIAL club Ari, so happy to have you join me.”

Elsewhere, many people questioned whether the suggestion that certain features could make Grande ‘look more Asian’ was racist in itself. “I’m an Asian and trust me, It’s so f**king racist to assume our eyes are small,” said one Twitter user.

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It’s not the first time Grande has been accused of appropriating Asian culture. To celebrate the release of her track “7 Rings” back in 2019, the 28-year-old had what she thought was the Japanese translation of the title tattooed on her hand. When she took to social media to show off the new ink, followers criticised her for using the Asian language as a fashion statement – also pointing out that the translation was incorrect.

“Ariana Grande’s new tattoo 七輪 means Japanese style bbq grill, not 7 rings. If you want to know about 七輪, just google SHICHIRIN,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

She later enlisted the help of a Japanese tutor to correct the mistake, sharing an updated version of the tattoo on her Instagram story.

Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to Ariana Grande’s representatives for comment.

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