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Son's girlfriend thinks suntans are racist

(447 Posts)
DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:18:13

I could be opening a real can of worms here, but I'm genuinely gobsmacked by a few things my Son's 18yr old girlfriend said to me last night..

First of all she asked me did I think it's racist for white girls to copy black girl's style. I had no clue what she was referring to as 'black girl's style' so asked her to elaborate. She then referred to a singer called Ariane Grande (who I know literally 0 about) and said that she tans herself until she's almost black and 'dresses like a black girl'.

I've Googled said singer and all I can find is a pic of her with Nikki Minaj where, yes, she looks dark, but so what? We've been tanning since Coco Chanel made it stylish in the 1920's, and probably long before that! What are we supposed to do? Stay indoors when the sun shines ffs?!!

Son's GF also stated that it's racist for a white person to wear corn rows in their hair. I told her that my friends and I used to corn row our hair a lot in the mid to late 80's, we used to stick wooden or plastic beads on the ends of our plaits, it was quite the fashion at the time!

What do you all think about this? Please tell me this is all going too far. I'm genuinely quite perplexed that tanning and corn rows could be deemed to be racist!

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Ihaventgottimeforthis Sun 12-Jul-20 14:27:03

Google cultural appropriation & black-fishing and see if they resonate with you, it is one perspective.

A woman called Amanda Seales said 'you cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues' which I take to mean that people should not pick and choose the parts of black culture and heritage and identity that they like, and ignore structural racism etc.

Or more simply put, think a deep tan is sexy and fashionable but actual black skin is not; or wearing a native american headdress at a festival is a cool thing to do...

UltimateWednesday Sun 12-Jul-20 14:31:36

"A suntan" and what Ariane Grande does are not the same thing.

FelicityBeedle Sun 12-Jul-20 14:31:47

Have you been living under a rock? There’s a lot of discourse around cultural appropriation at the moment. No one is saying tanning is racist, but some ‘celebs’ tan to the point they look black and use black culture to further their own fame, that is obviously an issue.
The issue with using black hairstyles is they will often be punished in jobs and schools for wearing their hair like that, but for white people it’s a trend. I’m not actually sure where I sit on that particular issue, I recognise the issue but acknowledge That white people have historically done their hair like that

DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:34:42

@Ihaventgottimeforthis I think all skin colours are beautiful and sexy. Personally I don't really pay much attention to how white or brown I am (though I know lots of white women who do love to be dark). I do love sitting in the sun though... I'd hate to think that such a recreation could be deemed racist? I think that's bordering on bonkers!

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Durgasarrow Sun 12-Jul-20 14:35:20

Hi, OP, I know, this is a complicated era. There are a lot of things that people are condemning now that people did in the past without meaning any harm. But there is some context to what your son's girlfriend is saying to be aware of as we move into the future. For example, I suspect that what she's saying about Ariana Grande is not that it's wrong that she suntans, but that she thinks she is trying to look dark skinned to pretend to be black, and is "acting black" inappropriately. She's taking on the witty inside jokes and style of a culture that she's not entitled to join as if she's a member, etc., and trying to blur the lines by her manner, dress, and darkening her skin tone. I can't vouch for what your son's gf was saying or if that's true about Ariana Grande, but that's what it sounds like her objection is. And I think that is an objectionable appropriation of culture, especially because Black culture is so incredibly, amazingly rich and creative that it is very marketable around the world, even though Black people themselves often do not benefit.from it.

amijustparanoidorjuststoned Sun 12-Jul-20 14:36:30

OP, you've clearly not kept up with the Black Lives Matter movements and discussion around racism.

I would suggest you Google this cause, as well as "black-fishing" and "cultural appropriation". I think your son's girlfriend might be taking things a tiny bit too far where the natural melanin in a person's skin is concerned if they go outside... but it's not acceptable for you to be absolutely clueless.

The post that you have written screams "white privilege" (look that up too!). Do better.

DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:37:44

To everyone replying, I won't reply to each individual comment as it's too time consuming. I just want everyone to know that I won't take offence to any education on this issue and no, I haven't been living under a rock, I choose not to watch or read the news though, so I may have missed a few things.....

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LittleDonk Sun 12-Jul-20 14:40:45

I'm pretty sure Ariana Grande is of Sicilian/Italian descent and was dark olive skinned as a child actor. Not sure she's relevant.

Somethingorotherorother Sun 12-Jul-20 14:41:26

@DollyDaydream70 ignorance isn't an excuse, unfortunately. If i were you I'd take the time to properly educate myself around these issues. Maybe once you've done some reading (the terms PP suggested would be a good starting point) your son's girlfriend would be a good person to talk to about anti-racism and white privilege - she seems well-educated and switched on.

PlumForDinner Sun 12-Jul-20 14:41:43

I just googled her and I can't see any pictures where she looks tanned until 'almost black' or where she's dressed specifically like a black girl confused

Most people I know like to be a bit tanned. I understand black face and cultural appropriation but I don't think having a tan equates to the same thing personally. I have olive skin and I tan a lot and very easily when I'm abroad on holiday for example, I'm not trying to tan until I'm 'almost black', it's just what happens to my skin in the sun...

DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:41:44

@Durgasarrow Thank you for your informative, non judgemental reply :-) I'm here to be educated but clearly I've unintentionally annoyed a few people. This is mumsnet though, we don't post on sensitive issues if we can't take the flak!!

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MulticolourMophead Sun 12-Jul-20 14:44:01

I've never seen tanning as racist, more that it used to be a status symbol highlighting that you could afford to go abroad for a holiday. This certainly seemed to be the case when I was young.

DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:44:27

What about the corn rows? Can anyone tell me about hair styles etc? Is it ok to get my hair permed if it's naturally straight?

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MrsFionaCharming Sun 12-Jul-20 14:45:40

I don’t know much about her, but I always thought AG was a woman of colour. Having just googled I’m a bit shocked. Is this not essentially blackface?

MrsFionaCharming Sun 12-Jul-20 14:46:40

Also, I think you’re being intentionally ignorant and inflammatory with your title. There’s a big difference between a natural suntan and what AG has done.

SimonJT Sun 12-Jul-20 14:46:46


I don’t know much about her, but I always thought AG was a woman of colour. Having just googled I’m a bit shocked. Is this not essentially blackface?

So if a white person gets a sun tan or a spray tan they’re doing black face?

Bluntness100 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:47:14

Amijust, your post is rude, someone asked a question. A belittling answer is not acceptable.

Do better,

doadeer Sun 12-Jul-20 14:47:22

OP this is a huge issue for many black women (and men, but more women).

Why don't you watch this

It's not just about fashion and getting a tan it goes so much deeper than that. It's the concept that so many black and Asian women are told they are not beautiful, bullied for characteristics... Then suddenly the white popular culture media decides these things are trendy then suddenly everyone is doing them with zero appreciation for their origins. Such a bindis and henna at festivals.

Arianna Grande profits off looking racially ambiguous as it's "cooler" than just being a white girl.

CurlyMc Sun 12-Jul-20 14:47:35

Having a tan is racist? Good grief.

Ariane Grande is of Italian descent too by the way. That's important to remember.

PlanDeRaccordement Sun 12-Jul-20 14:48:24

Your sons GF doesn’t think suntans are racist.
Arianna Grande is well known for black fishing which is the sum of numerous actions including tanning to darken skin with the objective of being racially ambiguous or black passing. As well as tanning, she has used different makeup to contour her features to look black. She has appropriated black culture in clothing/ jewelry. Too in her lyrics for her music she appropriates black American dance, slang and sings/talks in a black American working class accent.

Waxonwaxoff0 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:48:29

It's FAKE tan that is the issue with black fishing, not skin that naturally sun tans. White women that pile on the fake tan to the extent they look a different race is a problem.

Ihaventgottimeforthis Sun 12-Jul-20 14:48:42

Dolly I don't think simply wanting to have a tan is evidence of a racist attitude. That to me would be an extreme interpretation.

Perhaps what she was trying to get at is when people excessively darken their skin and take on certain aspects of black appearance (hairstyles, using makeup to accentuate certain features perhaps) in order to take on positive aspects of black culture, without having to actually experience the bad stuff that comes along with actually being black ie racism and prejudice.

FWIW I don't think you having cornrows when you were younger means you are racist, but that we should listen to and appreciate the way society changes in how we view things.
Remember how a few years ago when Top Shop was all into bindis and henna and stuff? It's definitely insensitive.

StatementKnickers Sun 12-Jul-20 14:48:46

I would say cornrows are not appropriate for white people but I think saying we shouldn't tan is a bit much! I love to have a tan but it's not because I'm trying to look black (chance would be a fine thing with my pasty English complexion).

DollyDaydream70 Sun 12-Jul-20 14:48:54

@MrsFionaCharming Is it? I really don't know, I'm genuinely here to find out more. A lot of people are taking offence and telling me I'm ill informed etc, but I'm genuinely taken aback by some of the comments here. I'm here to look at differing views, and I'm reading with great interest.

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