Words: Elizabeth Di Filippo
Ariana Grande is under fire for her “noticeably darker” skin on the latest cover of Vogue magazine.
The 26-year-old vocal powerhouse was revealed as the US magazine’s August cover star, posing alongside her beloved dog, Toulouse.
Grande took to Instagram to unveil the cover, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, to her more than 159 million fans.
“Thanks for allowing me to be in the background of Toulouse’s first Vogue cover,” she captioned the photo.
Posing in an oversized hat with natural-looking makeup, Grande smoulders for the camera, as the strap of her black Dior gown falls off her shoulder.
While many of Grande’s fans celebrated what is undoubtedly a major milestone in any stars career, some criticised both the magazine and singer for altering her skin tone.
“When did she become black?” one person commented, while another asked, “Why is this white woman performing as a tan/black girl?”
Without her trademark ponytail, several fans have dubbed Grande “unrecognisable” for her Old Hollywood turn, while others have begun referring to her as “Rachel Dolezal.”
Many are pointing fingers at Vogue and the creative team for not anticipating a negative reaction to the look.
“This is blackface. How do you think this is OK?” questioned one social media user. “Hundreds of people must have been like, ‘Yep this is right’?”
Despite the backlash, Grande’s legions of loyal supporters are defending the cover, citing the star’s Italian heritage as an explanation for her tan.
“All the people complaining about the way she looks: do yourselves a favour and book a ticket to the South of Europe,” a Grande fan said. “Maybe you’ll be astonished to learn there’s more than black or white, if not just rent real Italian or Spanish movies set in the South.”
Some find no issue with Grande’s skin colour at all.
“You all act like she’s the first white woman to ever love a spray tan,” wrote one user.
The discussion surrounding the cover is vastly different than the heavy subject matter of her interview. Inside the magazine, Grande opens up about her struggles with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the May 2017 bombing at her Manchester concert that killed 22 people, and touches on dealing with the death of her ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, who died of a drug overdose last year.
“It’s pretty all-consuming,” Grande said of her grief. “By no means was what we had perfect, but, like, fuck. He was the best person ever, and he didn’t deserve the demons he had. I was the glue for such a long time, and I found myself becoming...less and less sticky. The pieces just started to float away.”