Nikita Dragun is a makeup artist and YouTube personality who made a name for herself with brand deals, modeling jobs and a trans-inclusive makeup line. Throughout the last few years, the Vietnamese-Mexican (born in Belgium) star has played into her “exotic” appeal.
Unfortunately for Dragun, that has often lead to her being accused of “blackfishing”—a term coined for instances when non-Black people darken their skin and enhance their features to seem more melanated and “racially ambiguous” than they are.
In 2018, for example, Dragun made multiple missteps by rocking locs and cornrows—both hair styles that Black people are penalized for while non-Black people wear with impunity. At least one major incident of her “blackfishing” and wearing darker skin as an accessory seemed to be outside of Dragun’s control.
A Jeffree Star cosmetics ad, for example, was heavily edited post-shoot. The make-up was already far darker than Dragun’s skin tone at the time, but Jeffree Star’s creative team digitally darkened her even further.
Dragun responded to criticism by saying she was just a model who showed up to do her job and had no control over the finished product.
She may not have edited the images, but she made it pretty clear that she was OK with them by promoting them across her social media. Still, her not being in charge did offer her fans and followers a bit of relief.
However, whatever good faith many of her fans may have had was pretty much erased thanks to a now-deleted Tweet that Dragun recently posted.
Sadly, this isn’t even the first time her tweets have gotten her into trouble. She has tweeted negatively about Black people in the past, saying she couldn’t imagine being Black.
In this recent post, she made light of the blackfishing concerns by asking:
“What race is Nikita gonna be today?”
After being called out by fans, followers and critics alike, Dragun took to Twitter once again to defend herself. She claimed she is tired of arguing with people who ask her if she is going to be Hispanic or Asian that day, since she is both of those things all day every day.
Here are those tweets:
Considering she is being accused of blackfishing, and neither of her parents are Black, her “I’m mixed” excuse didn’t really go over well.
There are literally thousands of comments pointing out that the issue was never her mixed ethnicities. The issue was never that she gets darker and lighter throughout the year like many other Vietnamese and Mexican people.
The issue was her pushing that natural dark tone far far darker and appropriating culture and style like locs, cornrows, du rags, etc. The issue was her wearing Black culture like a costume that she can profit from (about $325k so far this year) while Black people cannot wear those same things without facing repercussions.
The issue was her turning a march in George Floyd’s honor into a photo-op for herself while also making disparaging remarks about being Black.
Nikita has not made further comment on the accusations of blackfishing; and based on how she has handled this in the past, she likely won’t.
She’s also unlikely to change her behavior. It will be for her customers and collaborators to decide whether they want to continue to support and work with her or not.