A Deep Dive Into Jesy Nelson’s Problematic Behavior and ‘Blackfishing’ Accusations

Jesy Nelson, a 29-year-old singer from Romford, England, who is best known for being a former member of the British pop group Little Mix, is currently in the middle of an online storm that has fans divided.

Nelson left Little Mix in December 2020, claiming that she found the pressure of being in a girl group very hard to live up to, while also (later) mentioning that she did not like being compared to her three bandmates: Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall. Her departure came after a month-long internet silence had her followers concerned.

While Little Mix — now performing as a trio — are enjoying their continued success with the release of “Heartbreak Anthem,” Nelson has remained somewhat “quiet” on social media in the past week. Though it was just recently announced that she had signed a solo record deal, the celebration is bittersweet; Nelson’s Instagram comments have been limited and she has gone on a “blocking spree.” This is due to the accusations being made about her, one of those being that she “blackfishes.”

“Blackfishing” is a term used to describe people — most often white — who enhance or alter features of their appearance in order to appear Black or “ethnically ambiguous.” Nelson being outed as a “blackfisher” is nothing new. Several celebrities and social media influencers have been accused of it: Kylie Jenner, Nikita Dragun, Emma Hallberg, etc… and that’s just the icing on this controversial cake.

What exactly is the problem and how did it unfold?

Nelson is seen here, wearing locks in a 2018 Instagram post that sparked debate

On Sunday, May 16, a Buzzfeed article titled Dear Little Mix Fans, We Need To Hold Jesy Nelson Accountable went viral. Published two days prior, the piece reportedly had over 200,000 views before it was removed without warning on Monday evening. The writer, who went by the username “starburst49,” showed several examples of the former Little Mix star with an extremely dark tan. Other photos highlighted how Nelson purposely exaggerates other features on her body in order to appear as “anything but a white woman.” For example, she over-lines her lips to make them seem larger and styles her hair to where some claim it could easily resemble an afro.

The article was deleted without warning on Monday, May 17.

Twitter erupted and Nelson started trending over the weekend. Some people were genuinely surprised to find out that she was a white woman. There were those who came forward to admit that, even though they didn’t believe Nelson was Black, they thought she was at least mixed, multiracial, Hispanic, or Latina. Others found the accusations ridiculous, however, with several people trying to defend Nelson’s tanning or passing it off as her “just wanting to feel comfortable.”

Nelson’s defenders have claimed that it’s just “bad lighting” or “the wrong shade of foundation”

A few longtime fans even forgot what her actual skin tone looked like. The Buzzfeed article explains: Both of [Nelson’s] parents are white. Her three siblings are white. Her grandparents are white. On rare occasions (such as this one), Nelson will ditch the fake tan and show her natural complexion. With further photographic evidence, Twitter users became upset when comparisons showed the extent of her extreme tanning. The biggest shock in terms of her darkening her skin came when the public began to realize that Nelson was sometimes darker than Leigh-Anne Pinnock, who is an actual mixed woman (since both of her parents are also mixed).

In October 2020, when Little Mix released their music video for “Sweet Melody,” Nelson was shown with an extremely dark complexion. This prompted a few comments from fans, but it was largely ignored elsewhere. A screenshot from the video shows Nelson standing next to Pinnock — and many have agreed that, despite the shoot’s good lighting, Nelson is still darker than Pinnock (or at least the same color).

Some are finally noticing that Nelson has made herself darker or the same skin tone as Leigh-Anne Pinnock

A Tumblr post was also used for reference, showing that Nelson had been darkening herself for the last few years; nothing about this was “new.”

The account owner, “alloutshirt,” stated that they took offense to Nelson portraying herself this way because, “[I’m] mixed, but not Black.”

Using the picture above as an example, they write: “[That photo] is the most telling to me; not knowing [Jesy], you’d never guess that she’s a (full) white woman […] Everything about the way she presents herself is made to look like a different ethnicity.”

Describing their reason to call the singer out on her ignorance, alloutshirt also wrote: “Little Mix have done cultural appropriation as a whole […] I just kept it (focused) on Jesy […] she’s the one that’s blackfishing to this day.”

Others, who have been on the fence about the entire situation, noted that there have been several times where Nelson was mistaken for bandmate Jade Thirlwall. Someone pointed out that because Nelson has darkened her skin and styled her hair similar to that of her former bandmate, who is an actual biracial woman, it makes sense as to why people would believe that Nelson “isn’t fully white.”

Nelson has often been mistaken for Jade Thirlwall (right), who is an actual biracial woman

This instance led to another outcry that stemmed from a viral TikTok video. Thirlwall is seen talking to Pinnock as the two women share their stories about dealing with racism. Thirlwall implies that she never “passed” as white; she was called a “talking darkie” by those in her community. She was also violently bullied, with one schoolmate holding her down as another drew a Bindi on Thirlwall’s forehead. “Which was ridiculous,” she tells Pinnock, “because I’m Arab.” She even mentions an instance where someone followed her into the school’s bathroom to throw bleach powder at her.

Some of the comments on the video:

“She’s Arab? I thought [Thirlwall] was just tanned.”

“White people’s tanning has come to the point where someone who’s Arab or [brown-skinned]… you just think they’re ‘white with a tan.’”

“The fact that people think she ‘looks white’ is the harmful result of the over-tanning that white women do… That’s what we’ve been talking about.”

It goes on and on. There are those who genuinely believed that it was Thirlwall who was the one “using too much tan” — not Nelson. When it was made very clear that Nelson was a white woman darkening her skin, some people finally had their eyes opened to what was actually going on. The fact that Thirlwall and Pinnock have been vocal about their experiences with racism—even when Nelson was in Little Mix—and she has continued to purposely darken her skin without facing the same issues, Nelson has been dubbed “ignorant” and “problematic.”

The racial slur video incident

A few years earlier at a New Year’s Eve party, Jesy Nelson filmed one of her best friends, Dilem, who was white, repeatedly singing the N-word to Chris Brown’s “Freaky Friday.” Nelson uploaded the video to her Instagram Story, where thousands of her fans messaged her, saying that she needed to remove the post and apologize. While Nelson took down the video, she never apologized or even acknowledged the situation. Neither did Dilem.

The video can still be found online. While viewing, Nelson can be heard behind the camera as her friend doesn’t hesitate to sing every word. Regardless of whether or not her friend was drunk, their actions were inappropriate and unacceptable. Further posts from that night claim that Nelson herself was the only person in her group that stayed sober. This appears to be the one of the few problematic instances where everyone came together to say, “They went too far.”

Adding fuel to the fire, Nelson invited Dilem to the BRIT Awards just a few weeks after the video incident. She is currently still in good contact with this individual —whom she’s also referred to as a “soulmate” — and they both act as if the incident never happened. Dilem made her social media private after the video resurfaced.

Nelson’s history of rude and insensitive comments

During a livestream that took place in April 2020, Nelson made insensitive comments towards Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall that left many in an uproar, as they believed her to be projecting her own issues onto her friends.

Both Edwards and Thirlwall have had severe health struggles when it comes to food. Edwards, 27, was born with esophageal atresia, a condition where the esophagus does not develop properly. It can lead to breathing and choking problems if left untreated; Edwards has had two operations as a result. In comparison, Thirlwall, 28, was hospitalized at the age of thirteen after she nearly died from anorexia. For the last few years, she’s expressed concern over being “too skinny.”

Not even two minutes into the livestream, the comments begin. The girls are talking about food and Edwards mentions all the things she’s been trying lately. Nelson, who knows very well what it’s like to be judged for your weight, brings up the fact that Edwards has a fast metabolism and then asks, “How are you not fat?” Over nineteen thousand people were watching when this occurred. Despite the tone coming off as playful, Edwards’s face contorts into an expression that makes it seem like she was caught off-guard. It’s brief but noticeable.

“This is what really peeves me off about Perrie,” Nelson says to the audience. (Before she can even finish the sentence, Edwards gives a loud, somewhat forceable laugh as if she’s not offended.) “She’ll come in two weeks later, when she’s been eating like an absolute pig and be like, ‘I’ve lost weight!’ I wanna be one of those people who’s really happy for her, but I’m not. It really sets me off.”

Not wanting to discuss her metabolism, Edwards tells the viewers: “You know what it is? I think it’s because I’m like a five-year-old […] I’ll eat something and then jump on my trampoline for half an hour.”

Sixteen minutes later, Thirlwall joins the stream. The two began chatting, with Nelson complimenting her bandmate’s eyeliner and hair. Again, the topic switches to food — but only because Thirlwall talks about how her skin has been breaking out.

Referring to how she’s consumed a lot of junk food in the first few weeks of lockdown, Thirlwall tells the viewers: “I’ve eaten so much shit.” Nelson shakes her head and tries to interrupt her friend. Thirlwall continues with, “Like, you wouldn’t even believe it…” Almost immediately, Nelson chimes: “But you don’t put on any weight!”

Thirlwall looks taken aback for a second. Nelson begins to laugh. Some of the viewers sense a shift in the atmosphere as Thirlwall tells her, “Well, that’s why I’m keeping my bloody hoodie on.” (A callback to how she wore baggy clothes and sweatshirts so the media wouldn’t deem her underweight.) Nelson continues to chuckle while Thirlwall mumbles, “Honestly…” Then she decides to change the subject, showing the viewers that she’s been practicing her cooking skills as she’s got a pot boiling on the stove.

This interaction wasn’t perceived to be toxic; Little Mix are known for having a strong friendship, so surely the comments were just harmless, right? Edwards and Thirlwall know how to handle remarks about their own bodies, right? It’s okay for us to project our own insecurities on to our best friends in front of thousands of people, right?

The livestream wasn’t the only time where Nelson came under fire for her comments. Back in 2014, when Little Mix were an opening act for Demi Lovato on the Neon Lights Tour, they did an interview with MTV. During the Q&A portion, the girls are asked what their first impressions of each other were when they met on The X Factor (UK).

Describing the first time she heard Edwards’s singing voice, Nelson says:

“I thought [Perrie] was gonna be like, Ellie Goulding or something, I dunno… And then [she sang] and I was like, ‘What the hell, you sound like a black woman!’”

She says it while sitting right next to Pinnock, whose facial expression is not captured in that exact moment, though her awkward chuckling can be heard. Nelson also said that, during her time on the reality show, she considered herself to be an “urban street kid.”

A woman of color gave her honest response to the situation and she was “silenced”

Several people in the BIPOC community voiced their opinion on Nelson

Cherish Wilson, a 27-year-old woman of color from the United Kingdom, voiced her stance on the accusations of Nelson blackfishing. She also wrote an article on Buzzfeed, perhaps hoping to attract the same crowd that had viewed starburst49’s writing. Wilson’s post was titled, As A Woman Of Colour, Here Are My Honest Thoughts On Jesy Nelson “Blackfishing.”

“On some occasions, it looked like a natural tan,” Wilson writes. “Then there [are] images that showed her being the same skin tone as her bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock; I cringe, noting why many [are] furious with how Jesy Nelson was presenting herself in those particular moments.”

Wilson goes on to explain that U.K. girls who than themselves until they “turn burnt orange” are seen as the butt of several jokes; the trend of white women constantly tanning is why many are justifying Nelson darkening her skin — because it’s so normalized in this day and age. “I saw [someone] say that heavy tanning was ‘part of Jesy’s culture.’ What bloody culture? She’s from Romford.”

Wilson’s mother is Sri Lankan and her father is mixed. While Wilson herself is considered light-skinned, she has an elder sister who is the exact opposite. She then goes on to list moments where her family experienced prejudice, including an instance where her sister was racially profiled at a store in Bristol while pregnant. “As dark as Jesy makes herself,” Wilson writes, “she’ll never experience racism of any kind.” She reiterates that people aren’t seeing the key issue at hand. “Stop blaming her stylist. Stop blaming her ‘culture.’ This is where I agree that Jesy Nelson needs to be held accountable. At the end of the day, she can go home and wash off that dark complexion because it’s temporary. Millions of people do not have that ‘benefit.’ Jesy knows that she’s doing.”

To wrap things up, Wilson asks why Nelson wasn’t vocal or publicly supportive of Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall when they were experiencing racism online. Pinnock even released a film on the subject matter and there have been “crickets chirping” from Nelson’s end. Others have also called out this hypocrisy, as Nelson’s bandmates supported her greatly when she released her documentary on cyberbullying back in September 2019.

While Wilson’s piece was shared on Twitter and began to catch the eye of many, it was taken down the following morning. It’s unknown if the article was mass reported by trolls, violated Buzzfeed’s guidelines, or if Nelson’s team saw it and had it removed.

The timing and quickness of Wilson’s article being removed is sketchy, leading many to believe that Nelson is taking extreme measures to make sure people stop talking about the issue. Several other Twitter users were also surprised, as Wilson’s piece was “well-written,” respectful, and actually addressed the issue at hand.

The response has been toxic and all over the place…

Nelson’s strongest supporters — dubbed “Nelsonators” via social media — have been very defensive about the pop star. Some refuse to acknowledge her problematic behavior, while others choose to deflect and talk about other problematic celebrities, such as Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian. One fan account suggested that if Nelson was going to be “portrayed negatively” then the other members of Little Mix “deserve to have their shit spilled, too.”

“We do hold [Perrie, Jade, and Leigh-Anne] accountable,” one chimed in response. “They just haven’t continued to be toxic or problematic like Jesy because they know how to take criticism.”

In a disturbing take, one person wrote on Twitter: “Defending Jesy Nelson is not enough. I need a gun.”

The topic of Nelson “blackfishing” has shifted to other social media platforms, including YouTube and Instagram. Some of the comments are disturbing or show blatant ignorance:

“They’ll do anything to make [Jesy] look bad … Why are they only bringing this stuff up now that she’s left the group?”

“Lmao. So white women can’t tan anymore? I can’t tan anymore? Oops, guess I’ll be blackfishing then.”

“Let’s be real. If I was pale, hell yeah I’d go as dark as possible.”

“Well, if [Jesy] isn’t claiming to be Black, I don’t think it’s a huge problem…”

“This feels like a smear campaign. Are we just now noticing this?”

“If some of these black commenters would just admit that they hate white people […] It’s so obvious they hate us, because of what happened many years ago with the slave trade…”

On Instagram, one account said that the fandom was filled with hypocrites; the same people who once stood by the singer are now “believing lies.” Several people attempted to debunk the photos that showed Nelson in her over-tanned moments, claiming that filters had been added and the brightness had been dimmed down. Vice versa, some of the debunkers were apparently proven wrong as well.

Then there was another user who took the opportunity to express their take on the issue. Using two different photos of Leigh-Anne Pinnock — one of which was taken with the flash on and showed her skin being lighter — the user wrote: “Oh look, Leigh-Anne also tans, but it’s only wrong when Jesy is doing it.” Then he showed two different photos of Jade Thirlwall. (It should be noted that this particular account is run by a white man, who also posted a thread as to why Jesy Nelson “is NOT problematic” and “should NOT be held accountable.” The fact that he used a mixed woman — and then a biracial woman — as an example of “everybody tans” is problematic in itself.)

“The amount of people who genuinely think this woman has done nothing wrong during her entire career,” someone commented, “is very concerning and says a lot about them as well.”

As Nelson trended on Twitter, some trolls took the opportunity to spam social media with death threats and insults that pertained to body-shaming. Some were directed towards Nelson herself, but underneath the surface there was another horrific revelation: a majority of the harmful comments were being aimed at Nelson’s fans. While the pop star herself decided to limit the comments on her Instagram, that didn’t stop the vileness from being sent to those who defended her and wanted to continue their support. If you look through #JesyNelson on Instagram, you’ll find plenty of fan accounts talking about the backlash they’ve received — mostly from complete strangers.

While doing my research, I was able to reach out to a few users. Some were hesitant to speak with me and others simply chose not to respond at all. Once I explained my intentions and said that I could give them anonymity, they opened up like a book.

A teenage girl, whose favorite member is Thirlwall (as indicated by her account), told me:

“I understand. People are upset. I don’t like Jesy as much as I used to, but I’m still curious about her music. The fact that I still support her to an extent just made people angry […] I don’t even have that many followers and these nasty people just sent me messages. They were saying things like, ‘I guess pigs gotta stick together.’ It was awful. They found [my Instagram] through my Twitter bio […] I’ve never felt so awful […] I ended up deleting my Twitter account because these trolls don’t care who they’re hurting.”

An Instagram account dedicated to Nelson, with over five thousand followers, said that they had also had mixed feelings on the accusations being made towards the pop star, but people still condemned them for ultimately supporting her.

“I’ve had this account for almost three years. [Jesy] even viewed my Story once and it was so exciting […] The recent news about Jesy has left me feeling guilty. That Buzzfeed article wasn’t great but it made good points […] I was wondering, like, ‘Should I even support her or tell my followers how I feel?’ […] One guy just came outta nowhere and told me that I was ugly and had a ‘pathetic’ role model. He didn’t even follow me […] A lot of people who’ve been sending me nasty comments don’t follow me.”

In a lengthy response, another fan — feeling the exact opposite — disclosed:

“I think someone wrote that Buzzfeed article just to hurt her […] What’s wrong with having dark skin? I know she tans a lot, but who is she hurting? Jesy is a strong woman and she deserves the best […] I get it, some people are offended, but if one Black person tells me they don’t care how dark Jesy makes herself, then I know for a fact it’s nothing to cry over […] People are really sensitive nowadays. With everything that’s going on, they’re just putting their emotions all over the place […] Yeah, I’ve received death threats for saying that [Jesy] has done nothing wrong, and it only proves my point: people just wanna hate her because they don’t like her success.”

“This isn’t a witch hunt… some of you just finally decided to listen”

Nelson in the “Sweet Melody” music video vs her natural skin color

It’s been a week since the accusations against Nelson went viral.

While the initial frenzy has died down, people are still talking about it. Memes have been shared, Nelson is still blocking users on Instagram, and the fanbase is more divided than ever. A few people have — after “much thinking” — decided that they, from a moral standpoint, can longer support Nelson. Some opinions and stances have changed; others remain begrudgingly stubborn.

“The fact that Jesy won’t even acknowledge it,” someone wrote on Instagram, “says a lot in itself. That’s what’s disappointing for most of us.”

“I sent her a DM,” someone else shared. “All I said was that some of us are genuinely trying to educate her on the matter.” Then they go on to explain that they were blocked from viewing Nelson’s account a few hours later. In response, someone told them that since Nelson “was a grown-ass woman who’s about to turn thirty,” she should have learned from her mistakes at this point.

“This isn’t a witch hunt,” one fan account posted to their Instagram Story. “We’ve been talking about this for years. Some of you just finally decided to listen.”

This rings true, as fans attempted to hold Nelson accountable on several different occasions prior to her departure from Little Mix. The first major call-out was from 2018 and the aforementioned Tumblr post was written back in August 2020 (months before she left the group). The notion that people only called the singer out after she left the group is just absurd. No one is trying to sabotage Nelson’s solo career; her own actions can be blamed for that, as many will boldly state.

The pop star is definitely aware of what’s going on. She likes posts that defend her or explain why she’s not problematic. On several fan accounts, she’s left comments expressing her gratitude. Nelson appears to be focused only on herself and the music she’s hoping to release by the end of this year. Her platform has been called “very self-centered,” even while she was in Little Mix. Several fans claim they are distancing themselves until Nelson responds to the situation. In contrast, many have already unfollowed her and express no desire to hear her music when it comes out.

Nelson’s defenders have continued to call the news “a part of cancel culture.” Those who aren’t even fans of the singer have their own input: “This seems like a smear campaign because a group member went solo.”

‘Serving you Egyptian Royalty realness,’ Thirlwall captioned in a string of Instagram photos

Some have asked why Jade Thirlwall wasn’t being “cancelled” for wearing a blend of box braids to the recent BRIT Awards. If Jesy wore that hairstyle then you all would tell her what a disappointment she is. But if Jade wears it, “Wow, that’s beautiful.” Yet, it can be argued that it’s perfectly acceptable for Thirlwall to have the hairstyle; her mother is Egyptian-Yemeni and she’s trying to embrace the ancestry she once attempted to “avoid” early on in her career. Furthermore, aspects of the hairstyle can have its origins traced back to Egypt and other parts of Africa.

Perrie Edwards was also used as an example when someone brought up old photos of her experiencing a bad tan. The argument was shut down with: “Here’s the thing…when has Perrie ever been mistaken for another ethnicity? Exactly. She knows when to stop. Don’t compare her to Jesy.”

Remaining fans and admirers are not trying to make Nelson a part of cancel culture; they just want to hold her accountable.

Various photos were shared with me when I asked some of Nelson’s former fans to show examples of when they mistook her for being “something other than white.” Most could be found on Twitter, but I was given two that I had yet to see on the platform when it came to discussing the controversy. The images were of Little Mix being photographed for ASOS Magazine back in November 2018. The spread was to coincide with the release of their fifth album, LM5. The girls had their pictures taken together, then separately.

The person who sent me these examples wrote:

“That ASOS cover should be talked about more. Look at Jesy — she’s the same tone as Jade and when they both stand next to Leigh-Anne it’s easy to assume that (minus Perrie) they’re all women of color. Jesy is supposed to be the same skin tone as Perrie, but she doesn’t want to be seen that way. […] I know she has insecurities and going one or two shades darker would be easy to dismiss, but come on. Now knowing that she’s a complete white woman, that photoshoot doesn’t sit right with me. The more I think about it: Jesy was kinda perpetrating a stereotype; hoop earrings, big (over-lined) lips, wearing a wig with a visible track — things that would be considered “ghetto” if they appeared on me.

I’ve been a fan since 2017. Their music helped me through a lot, but I can accept that they’ve done some questionable things. You won’t see many fans mention that unless you ask them directly […] Jesy always stood out to me. She’s so gorgeous. But I actually never had a ‘favorite.’ I can put it this way: she was my fashion inspiration. I wanted to dress like her and do my makeup the same way […] When I read [the Buzzfeed article], I was genuinely surprised to find out that Jesy was fully white. I mean, it makes sense as to why people would think she’s mixed or biracial. Look at how Jesy presents herself […] and only on rare occasions does show her natural skin.

Can you really blame people for thinking that [Jesy] was something else? It was HER choice to darken her skin for several years […] nobody looked at a photo of when she had pale skin and then said, ‘Yep. She must be Black.’ No. She’s been consistent with the tan and I think that’s why so many people were fooled […] I look back at the time when she wore her hair in locks. I didn’t see the issue because I thought she WAS mixed or something. And yeah, this is coming from a 22-year-old Black woman. I have family members who look like Jesy when she tans; some of us are lighter and others are dark. Some people don’t wanna admit they thought Jesy wasn’t white and I get it.

Jesy never said she was Black or biracial, but she’s also never clarified that she IS just a white woman […] People are right to call her out, but I don’t believe in death threats or any of that shit. […] Can’t she just talk about what’s going on? Why stay silent? I’ve seen people say that it’s going to hurt her career in the long run and I think they’re right.”

Why holding Jesy Nelson accountable is “risky”

When Nelson released her documentary Odd One Out, she talked about how her experiences with cyberbullying lead her to attempt suicide in late-2013. On top of that, her other struggles included depression and an unspecified eating disorder. Since then, Nelson has had an on-and-off battle with body image issues. The trolls first attacked her when she appeared on X Factor in 2011 and her appearance has been the subject of cruelty ever since. When they weren’t spewing words, the trolls were altering images of Nelson — one of which showed her head being replaced with a monster’s face.

Knowing how active she’s been on social media lately, many were quick to go to Nelson’s Instagram to seek a response when instances of her toxic behavior went viral. She was deleting several comments. Then they were limited. She would only respond to open DMs or those who were taking her side. Nelson eventually posted a string of photos that showed her being “unbothered” in the studio. That’s when it was made very clear that she was in no rush to address what was being said. Many of her fans were angry, stating that she was being childish and “clearly [doesn’t] want to learn” from her actions.

Hesitation to call the singer out has been prominent, though. People have taken Nelson’s emotions and history of depression into consideration; nobody wants to be responsible if their words, even with the best intentions, push her over the edge. At the same time, Nelson’s mental health and past trauma should not be used as an excuse for her to avoid this controversy or continue the same problematic behavior.

Now, there’s a clear difference between bullying and criticism. Though it’s a painful truth that not everyone can distinguish threats and abuse from an abrasive critique. While I do genuinely believe that there are dedicated fans who want Nelson to be held accountable and don’t wish her any harm, the same can’t be said for thousands of strangers online who don’t hesitate to use her imperfections and problematic behavior as an excuse to send her (and others) death threats.

It all boils down to this: if you don’t like what Jesy Nelson has done and you’re not going to wait for an apology or acknowledgement, then you don’t have to support her. Even for those who’ve followed Nelson since the beginning, this can be a hard string to cut. There’s the phrase “don’t meet your heroes”; the same can be said for idolizing them. No celebrity is perfect. To say that Nelson’s defenders are suffering from Stockholm syndrome would be a stretch. How I view it is that they’ve grown to love Nelson and denial would be rational if their admiration has gotten so deep. Their credibility will falter, however, when they aren’t taking other people’s feelings into consideration and instead choose to ignore or deflect. Debunking photos isn’t what they should focus on and devote their energy to.

The biggest takeaway from the accusations of blackfishing is that Nelson has the privilege of being able to “adjust her skin tone.” She’ll never experience racism — her tan is temporary, no matter how dark she makes herself. (And this can be said for anyone else who has been called out for blackfishing.) This is what people have been trying to express from day one. And even then, don’t just hold her accountable for only darkening her skin; the comments she’s made need to be discussed in great length, too.

“What’s stopping her from speaking about all these other social issues?” a user posted on Instagram. “She did a whole film on bullying and mental health […] are those the only things that are important to her? She’s got a platform. A big platform! If she can ask over seven million people to tune in to a documentary on cyberbullying, why not use that same energy to support [her] bandmate dealing with racism?”

“If three or four people thought she was biracial or whatever, that’s one thing,” someone told their followers. “But no, thousands and thousands of people had no idea that this woman was white because of how she styles herself. Why does no one see the problem?”

So with that being said, it’s unknown how successful Nelson’s solo career will be. A significant decrease in new Instagram followers makes it clear that the repercussions have already begun. Since the news broke, Nelson currently rakes in a little over six thousand new users on her best day; her daily average used to be around ten to fifteen thousand. All fans want is for her to speak.

As of the publication of this article, Nelson has yet to comment or make a statement.