Ariana Grande was accused of “Asianfishing” after photos of her surfaced on the internet in which she appeared to have different facial features.
The photos were posted by New York-based photographer Katia Temkin on Instagram and were widely circulated on Twitter. In them, Grande poses in a green oversized blazer with a white ascot tied in a bow around her neck, an outfit she wore on “The Voice.”
Critics noted that in the photos, her eyes appeared to have a different shape than in previous pictures, speculating that she underwent plastic surgery. Grande’s supporters suggested that the controversy was overblown. Others suggested that implying her smaller shaped eyes looked more “Asian” was a racist assumption in itself.
“Asianfishing” refers to the act of a non-Asian individual attempting to look Asian by adopting Asian phenotypic features, makeup, clothing and other aspects of physical appearance.
The term is derived from “Blackfishing,” a term coined by Canadian journalist Wanna Thompson, in which a non-Black person tries to appear Black, often resulting in the non-Black person’s financial gain. Both terms originate from the idea of “catfishing,” or posing as someone you are not on dating apps or social media.
Oli London becomes involved
The controversy was amplified when influencer Oli London, a white British person who underwent extensive plastic surgery to look like Jimin of the K Pop group BTS, weighed in (London is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns). London identifies as a transracial Korean person.
London praised Ariana’s appearance, stating she looks “so cute and oriental” and welcoming her to the “transracial club.”
Some on Twitter took London’s endorsement as further evidence that Grande was altering her appearance intentionally.
Grande has been involved in previous controversies
The singer was accused of cultural appropriation of Asian cultures after tattooing what she believed was Japanese for “7 Rings,” the title of a popular single from her album “thank u, next” on her hand. The tattoo actually said “sichirin” which is the name for a small Japanese grill. When she attempted to resolve the misspelling, she ultimately made it worse.
A broader “7 Rings” controversy also encompassed accusations of Blackfishing and culturally appropriating Black culture based on the music video for the hit single.
After this latest controversy, users on Twitter joked that she has become “master of the four races.”