Instagram Influencer Emma Hallberg is Being Accused of “Blackfishing”


Sonia Rao

Emma Hallberg before and after her “transformation”.

Audrey Compiano, Staff Writer

Emma Hallberg is an Instagram influencer who is known for her fashion and makeup looks. Her large following has assumed she is a black or mixed woman due to her dark skin tone and curly, textured hair. An old pictured recently surfaced that was taken two years ago, showing her true complexion and natural Swedish features. She has received a lot of backlash on social media platforms and new sources that continue to spread this story.

In response, according to People Magazine, Emma Hallberg has since said, “Yes I’m white and I’ve never claimed to be anything else. And by no way, there are no “before” pictures, the pictures that have been spread are just two different pictures taken on two different seasons of the year.”

Speculation continued as viewers compared the two pictures and commented on the fullness of her lips and the texture of her hair. She responded to this on her Instagram stories with a series of posts by saying, “The left picture was taken 2 years ago right before summer with barely any makeup and my hair straightened. The right picture was taken in July right after I came home from a vacation, with makeup. I’ve been accused of doing frequent spray tans, taking melatonin [melanin], getting hair perms and lip injections and many more. When I haven’t done anything of the above. This is how the sun tans my skin naturally during the summer.”

To prove the authenticity of these claims, she shared pictures of her mother, father, brother, and a baby picture. These pictures showed the dark skin tone and curly hair shared by her family members.

While it is unsure whether Hallberg is telling the truth, this is not the first instance of this kind of circumstance. There are numerous influencers dishonestly advertising themselves as black or mixed race. The problem with this is that individuals appropriate black culture by taking on the visual aesthetics of their heritage when they are not people of color and do not have to take on the struggles that come with this race. They use the qualities of these cultures that are appealing to audiences in order to further their brand and success. Cultural appropriation has become so normalized in today’s society by influencers like the Kardashians who take on aspects of black culture such as cornrows and box braids, which they use to further their image. Cultural appropriation by definition according to the Cambridge Dictionary is, “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Different aspects of this culture are being taken on by many individuals but especially white people who lack the understanding of why ‘blackfishing’ is wrong and the weight that comes with being a person of color.

Emma Hallberg is only one example among many floating around social media. Many people do not understand the social implications that cultural appropriation carries. The general public needs to recognize what cultural appropriation entails and why it is wrong. Education about race and culture should be stressed in order to understand how appropriation benefits the user for their own personal gain at the disrespect of other cultures.