An Instagram beauty influencer is facing backlash online after several followers accused her of using blackface.
Ghadeer Sultan, a Kuwaiti makeup artist with more than 2 million followers, shared multiple photos and a video of herself with a noticeably darkened skin tone.
The first post, shared on New Year's Eve, was a clip of Sultan lip-syncing to "We Are the World 25 for Haiti," the star-studded track released to raise money for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Sultan's version shows her pretending to sing into a microphone while appearing in several different shades of makeup — purportedly to represent different cultures and races.
"No matter where you are from or what you believe in, we are all children of this world, and we all share it together equally," Sultan's post read. "Beauty comes in all shapes and colors, so let's love each other and celebrate our unity."
The video, which has now been viewed more than 400,000 times, was followed by a photo of Sultan in one of her "darkened" looks, along with the caption "HAPPY NEW YEAR."
Both posts garnered outrage online, as many of Sultan's followers commented that her makeup job was an "unacceptable" instance of "blackface."
"Darkening your face, regardless of the context or the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface," one person wrote.
"This is the most offensive thing I’ve seen. You can portray togetherness without disrespecting an entire culture. So uneducated, this is beyond unnecessary and unacceptable," another added.
Many called for her to delete the posts immediately, while some suggested she use a black model to demonstrate her makeup skills instead. Some users, however, were far less critical, arguing that it was not Sultan's intention to insult people with different skin tones than her own.
"Racism is all about intention, [and] if her intention is to showcase beauty behind dark skin then this isn't racism," one commenter wrote.
"Isn’t blackface when people make fun of black people? It looks like she’s embracing black people and making it beautiful. I think this is an exception, she means no harm and has put on beautiful make-up," another wrote.
Sultan, meanwhile, stood her ground on the controversy, sharing another post of her darkened face with a caption saying her posts should not be interpreted as racism.
"I am not racist... I hate racism. What I’ve done is only to show what I am capable of..." her post read. "I love you all Life is meant for living... living with love and passion for every one without thinking of what they are could really change your life."
That post drew more angered responses, as many followers insisted that Sultan was in fact in blackface — considering that her natural skin color is significantly lighter.