Beyoncé's athleisure clothing brand Ivy Park is facing backlash after recent promotional pictures have been accused of ‘blackfishing’ by some followers.
On Tuesday Ivy Park’s Instagram account shared a photo of two women wearing pieces from the new collection in collaboration with Adidas.
The two models who appeared in the shot would easily have been perceived as women of colour due to the skin tone and hairstyles they were seen in. However, they were in fact tagged in the photo, and followers who clicked on their accounts discovered them to be white women from Russia.
The post has since been deleted, but a number of people took screenshots which have been posted to Twitter and other Instagram accounts. The models themselves also posted some of the images which appear to be from the same shoot on their personal Instagram accounts, where they remain at the time of writing.
People were shocked to see that Beyoncé's brand was using white models to represent Ivy Park while using pictures that made them appear to be Black, instead of using people of colour as models.
There was an immediate influx of comments on the post questioning the brand, and asking for the image to be removed
Over on Twitter, people posted the pictures from the Ivy Park shoot side by side with other pictures from the models’ Instagrams, in order to show how differently they presented.
Blackfishing is a practice by which people artificially alter their appearance to appear racially ambiguous, or in an attempt to be perceived as Black or biracial. A number of celebrities and influencers have been accused of this practice in recent years.
Sheilla Mamona wrote for Glamour earlier this year about the impact of blackfishing, and why it’s damaging and offensive:
“Caucasian women who appear to be posing as black don't seem to know nor do they acknowledge the struggle that black women go through just to be accepted as who they are. The privilege that comes with monetising something that hasn't always been celebrated within other communities is unethical in itself.”
Of course, it’s more complex when the brand in question is owned by a Black woman. Many people thought Beyoncé herself should be kept out of it, as she’s unlikely to have signed off every promotional image used for her brand.
However others pointed out that as the face of Ivy Park, she still has a responsibility to speak out about the controversy. It’s also worth noting that the line itself is in collaboration with Adidas.
Other celebrities who have recently been accused of blackfishing include Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian and Rita Ora. The practice has also been called out in the world of Instagram influencers.
indy100 has reached out to Ivy Park for comment and we’ll update you if they respond.