Little Mix usually tries to stay away from controversy but they always speak out when it really matters.

Recently, the band spoke to The Telegraph, and naturally, the subject of their ex-band member Jesy Nelson came up. When asked their opinion on Jesy’s blackfishing accusations, Leigh-Anne Pinnock said,

“Capitalizing on aspects of blackness without having to endure the daily realities of the black experience is problematic and harmful to people of color.”

She added,

“We think it’s absolutely not ok to use harmful stereotypes. There’s so much to say on that subject that it’s hard to sum up in a sound bite.”

jesy nelson blackfishing boyz music video
Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj on the set of the ‘Boyz’ music video
credit: Jesy Nelson / Twitter

On top of that, the group revealed that they even tried to broach the subject of blackfishing with Jesy before she left the group in December 2020. Jade Thirlwall explained,

“Jesy was approached by the group in a very friendly, educational manner.”

Jesy, however, is adamant that she was never talked to by the group about this matter until the last music video Little Mix performed together. In an Instagram Live with Nicki Minaj (who co-stars in her “Boyz” music video), Jesy said,

“I was in a group with two women of color, and it was never brought up to me up until the last music video that I did with them when [Leigh-Anne] messaged me and said, ‘Jesy I just want to make you aware…'”

Jesy went on to defend herself, claiming that she “genuinely didn’t think she did anything wrong.” She explained,

“My intention was never, ever to offend people of color… Growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to. These are the videos that I’ve watched and thought were the best… I just wanted to celebrate that.”

jesy nelson blackfishing skintone dark
Jesy on the set of her ‘Boyz’ music video
credit: Jesy Nelson / Instagram

With it almost being 2022, you’d think Jesy would’ve learned from the many mistakes of artists who have found themselves at the end of this talk. Instead, she just ends up using the same tired excuse we’ve heard countless times.

If you want to celebrate the music you hold dear learn how to truly appreciate it. Don’t darken your skin tone and cry wolf when called out about it.

And don’t blame your bandmates for not approaching you earlier. Black women are not your educators. Marginalized people shouldn’t have to educate you on what you’re doing wrong.

jesy nelson dreadlocks
Jesy wearing dreadlocks in a now-deleted Instagram post
credit: Jesy Nelson / Instagram

That being said, I don’t think she was truly blackfishing. She’s going for the ever-so-popular racially ambiguous look. The one with big lips, fox eyes, darkish skin, and curves. Being black isn’t her goal, nor is blackfishing. Her goal is to be as close to ethnically ambiguous as possible because that is where the money lies.

We see influencers rise to fame off of this ambiguous look, which is problematic in itself. Jesy and others can benefit from the fetishism of being “othered” and make money from doing so without having to deal with anything else that comes from being brown.

Years later, Jesy will probably walk around without the tan, without the lip fillers, without the hair, and will laugh at herself for how crazy she looked. But for people born with these features and told they are too much, or not enough because of them, they can never wipe that off.

That is the problem with blackfishing or ambiguous fishing. For a majority of the world, it’s a trend. But for the marginalized, it’s everyday life. Seeing people profit off of it only to take it off when it becomes too much will leave you in a place where you may have to call out your former friend even if it’s uncomfortable.

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