A Kuwaiti makeup artist was accused of racism after she posted a video and a picture of herself painted in dark makeup, in what critics condemned as blackface.
Ghadeer Sultan first posted a short video clip on her Instagram page on Wednesday, with the song We Are the World playing in the background, showcasing her different looks in a range of skin colours and wigs.
She then posted a photo of herself in blackface, which has garnered more than 44,000 likes.
Sultan’s page, which has two million followers, was then inundated with comments denouncing her blackface while others argued she had done nothing wrong.
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“You should know better than this,” Instagram user baraakdm wrote. “This is racist no matter how [you] put it.”
“We don’t even get [accepted] for our own beauty,” another user, domichantal412 commented. “And WE ARE NOT A COSTUME! YOU CAN NOT GO AND TRY OUR FLAWLESS FEATURES on and think it is okay.”
In response, Sultan posted another photo of herself in blackface, with a caption explaining that she is not a racist.
“I hate racism,” she wrote. “What I’ve done is only to show what I am capable of. I love you all.”
However, her explanation irked more people, who saw her words as doubling down on accepting racism and refusing to learn why blackface is wrong.
“CAPABLE OF?!” user sheisshell replied. “Our skin is not a BEAUTY TREND or something that’s POPULAR FOR THE MOMENT!!!! Our black lives are being taken simply for the color of our skin and y’all care nothing about that!!!”
Other users tried to clarify to Sultan why blackface is racist.
“Blackface makeup was done to make fun of people who have black skin,” user usra_kim said. “That’s why [it’s] not acceptable and consider[ed] racist … Colouring your skin doesn’t show any of your skills just how ignorant you are.”
“It’s not for you to decide whether something is deemed racist to a group of people you are not a part of,” pa0100pa said.
“If you wanted to show your versatility, you’d do an actual black model’s makeup,” another user pointed out.
The heated debate was also discussed on Twitter.
“She just wanted to do something different, why is this such an issue?” one user asked. “She didn’t hurt anyone or do anything wrong.”
Others took it upon themselves to explain what blackface is and why it causes offence.
A user by the name @hijadeelsahara said that the Arab world still operates on a system of “masked slavery that excludes black people from public life and pushes them into marginalised societies and workplaces”.
“This narrative is still normalised,” she posted. “Some black girls are still afraid to show their natural hair and get subjected to bullying and hate.”
This is not the first time a beauty influencer from Kuwait has faced controversy.
Last year, beauty blogger Sondos al-Qattan was heavily criticised on social media after she posted a video attacking Kuwait’s new laws aimed at improving conditions for Filipino domestic workers.
In the aftermath of her comments and amid calls for a boycott of businesses linked to the influencer, several global beauty brands that al-Qattan is affiliated with, including Max Factor and French perfume brand M Micallef, severed ties with her.