US pop star Ariana Grande criticized for ‘cultural appropriation’ but many Chinese recognize her ‘pretty Asian make-up’
Published: Dec 15, 2021 05:41 PM
Ariana Grande Photo: Sina Weibo

Ariana Grande Photo: Sina Weibo

US pop star Ariana Grande was criticized by netizens for "cultural appropriation" after she appeared to look Asian in her latest photo shoot with single-edged eyelid make-up and light skin complexion, two traits of many Asian women, but many people on Chinese social media platforms praised her "pretty" Asian look and enjoyed the popular imitation make-up. 

In her latest online image, Grande wears typical Asian make-up with South Korean flattened eyebrows and single-edged eyelids formed by winged eyeliner. With light eyeshadows, high-shine light color gloss lipstick, and light complexion of foundation, she looks exactly like an Asian woman. She even changed her typical blond high ponytail into a black straight hairstyle. 

The new image swiftly stirred a war of words on the internet with many Western netizens criticizing her of "cultural appropriation." 

Others accused her of "Asian fishing," a term used to describe the behavior of someone who is not Asian but tries to look like they are, either with make-up, posing, clothes or photo-editing.

Some women of white ethnicity dress themselves up like Asian women to cater to or obtain benefits from men of white ethnicity who prefer Asian women, a column on said. It's basically appropriating another's racial background for self-gain.

"Asian fishing" has been criticized for its consolidation of some white men's stereotype of Asian women as "sexual playthings" and fostering a culture of sickening and abnormal obsession for Asian women. 

Born in an affluent white family in Florida, Grande has been trying to appear like other races since her debut. The 28-year-old woman had also previously changed her fair skin into a darker color. She had also been criticized for "black fishing."

Some internet users mocked that Grande is "a ruler of all ethnicities" while others satirized that, "Only a master of the four races can save the pop world."

As the debate heated up, Grande removed the controversial photos from Instagram but has not yet addressed the backlash. 

However, many Chinese netizens seem to think differently and were more tolerant to Grande's "pretty" Asian look, regarding her behavior as enjoying the popular imitation make-ups for fun. 

"She's just enjoying applying imitation make-up. Why do Westerners magnify and overanalyze the issue?" a Chinese netizen commented. 

"Only a top make-up artist could have painted such beautiful eyes," another wrote. 

Other netizens went straight to the heart of the matter and pointed out that criticizing a nice Asian image is indeed racial discrimination.

A netizen on China's Twitter-like Sina Webo noted that "this is a good-looking Asian image and only those overly squinting eyes are defacing Asians."

In fact, some criticism from netizens is not undeserved since Grande used to be keen on clout-chasing Asian culture. 

In 2019 when Grande was publicizing her new song "7 Rings," she mistakenly got "Japanese style BBQ grill" tattooed on her palm in Japanese kanji. The mistake also flew in the face of the pop star's public persona as a vegan. 

Grade finally deleted the photo of her tattoo and wrote "Pls leave me and my tambourine grill alone. thank u."

Global Times