Ariana Grande & East Asian Baiting – The Glamorization of Ethnic Features

THE VOICE -- Battle Rounds Episode 2107 -- Pictured: Ariana Grande -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

On numerous occasions, non-ethnic people, such as celebrities and influencers, have been accused of race-fishing. Some adopt Black hairstyles or tan skin to progress their careers. While such non-ethnic celebrities and people can change their skin tone, eye shape, hair, and more, people of color who are born with these traits do not have the same liberty. For years, ethnic features have a history of association with harmful stereotypes and racist remarks, but when a non-ethnic person adopts them, people view them as aesthetic and trendy.

Recently, Ariana Grande has been accused of East Asian baiting. The new source Femestella explains that the accusation was seen, “…in a recent photoshoot that arguably makes her skin look very fair, with her makeup being done in a way that creates the monolid effect with a fox eye shape.” (Thankfully, she later removed posts regarding the particular photoshoot, which some can take as recognition of her mistake.)

Ariana Grande was accused of Asian fishing by netizens (Image via MIUCClAMUSE/Twitter)
Ariana Grande was accused of East Asian baiting by netizens (Image via MIUCClAMUSE/Twitter)

After this event, Oli London reached out to support Grande’s East Asian baiting. London has had a similar history, a notorious influencer self-described as transracial who underwent plastic surgery to appear like the BTS band member Jimin. He tweeted, “Ariana wants to be Asian, I’m so happy for her for COMING OUT and living her best life. Asian World Domination! The TRANSRACIAL movement grows each day. #Transracial #ArianaGrande.” Other fans have attempted to defend Grande, explaining that she likely did not intend to East Asian bait. However, the intent is different from the impact, and Grande has had a history of race fishing.

For years, Grande has chosen makeup and fashion choices that make her appear racially ambiguous. The newsource Femestella also states, “In 2019, the “7 Rings” music video by Grande received attention for its appropriation of Black culture, her Black-fishing, and the fetishizing of Asian culture. She performed confidently with dark tanned skin, using AAVE in her lyrics, and then tattooed what she thought was “7 Rings” on the palm of her hand in Japanese (her tattoo meant barbeque grill).” There were also accusations that she adopted a blaccent to become more relevant.

The Real Story Behind Ariana Grande "7 Rings" Lyrics
7 Rings (Image via YouTube)

While an actual East Asian or Black person may face difficulties from living daily with such characteristics, Grande can remove them when necessary. For example, the news source Femestella continued by stating, “It is notable that during an event like her wedding, which is the ultimate metaphor for feminine “purity” and white womanhood in the US, she would revert to her natural appearance for her big day. This seemingly sends the message that her fascination with Black and Asian cultures is only for commodification when it’s time for her to make money and build her career. Meanwhile, personal milestones can be represented by her white womanhood.” When profitable, Grande can pick and choose which ethnic features she wants to create the illusion of having.

Grande is not the only celebrity accused of race fishing, however. Kylie Jenner has “sported cornrows, twists, and do-rags — all styles associated with Black culture — in photos she’s shared with her massive follower base,” as stated in the news source Insider. Such celebrities use racial ambiguity to benefit themselves and rarely credit Black designers for fashion choices.

Celebrities are not the only people who contribute to stealing ethnic features. People of all backgrounds tan themselves or apply makeup to model East Asian eye shapes. For instance, the fox eye trend mimics using makeup to create the illusion of stereotypical East Asian eyes, contributing to the portrayal of race as a fashion choice. While Grande may not intentionally be abusing her white privilege to benefit from racial features, the impact is lasting. Hopefully, people will soon realize the damage this behavior can cause to POC, and soon, racial features will not be a victim of glamorization.

Works Cited

Alicia KhanAlicia (she/her) is passionate about bringing equity to life through a critical and fearless lens. “What Ethnicity Is Ariana Grande? Whichever One Makes Her the Most Money.” Femestella, 7 Dec. 2021,,with%20a%20fox%20eye%20shape.