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Mon 6 Jan 2020 10:28 AM

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Kuwaiti beauty influencer defends controversial blackface pictures as 'art'

Influencer Ghadeer Sultan said she was 'more beautiful' in the blackface pictures and defended them as a way to showcase her ability as a make-up artist

Kuwaiti beauty influencer defends controversial blackface pictures as 'art'

In response to the growing online anger, Sultan posted a third image – again in blackface – in which she defended her actions. Image: ghdor.sultan/Instagram

A popular Kuwait beauty influencer has defended her use of a series of ‘blackface’ pictures on Instagram that sparked a fierce online backlash, calling them a representation of her artistic abilities and claiming it was not her intention to offend.

Earlier in January, influencer Ghadeer Sultan posted a 53-second video in which she appears in blackface, as well as a single photograph.

“No matter where you are from or what you believe in, we are all children of this world,” read the caption of the video. “Beauty comes in all shapes and colours, so let’s love each other and celebrate our unity.”

Both the video and the picture quickly amassed thousands of comments, with many users saying they were puzzled or offended at the images.

“This is the most offensive thing I’ve seen. You can portray togetherness without disrespecting an entire culture,” one user wrote. “So uneducated. This is beyond unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Another user wrote that she “couldn’t believe” that Sultan deemed the images acceptable to post.

“Are you familiar with blackface? Do you understand the gravity of what you just posted? I don’t think so,” the user wrote. “Ignorance is not always bliss.”

In response to the growing online anger, Sultan posted a third image – again in blackface – in which she defended her actions.

“I am not racist. I hate racism. What I’ve done is only to show what I am capable of. I love you all,” she wrote. “Think 2020 and live with passion for all peoples.”

In a more extended note posted to her Instagram stories, Sultan said she recognises that it “can’t have been easy” for viewers to “deal” with her blackface, but continued to defend her actions, saying they represented her artistic ability as a make-up artist.

“On the contrary, I looked more beautiful in my dark colours,” she wrote. “I’ve tried to explain several times why and how I’ve done this and what was my goal behind it…I can’t really change the sensitivity behind the whole issue.”

“I will work on resolving the [misunderstanding] and I will be careful in approaching or touching [other] cultures, so we can all enjoy the beauty behind the arts,” she added.

Arabian Business has reached out to Sultan for comment.

In late 2018, another Kuwaiti beauty influencer, Sondos Al Qattan, made international headlines after posting a video in which she harshly criticised new rules protecting the rights of Filipino domestic workers, leading many brands to cut ties with her.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online