“If it’s milk chocolate or a little bit lighter, it doesn’t matter.”
A white German couple who had artificially darkened their skin said that they’re expecting to have a black baby.
For most of her life model Martina Big was fair of both hair and skin. But in 2017 she went on the British morning show “This Morning” to declare that not only does she identify as an “African black woman,” but she has been getting tanning injections to become properly dark.
“In the past it was blonde Barbie with white skin but now it is [an] extreme exotic Barbie,” she told Barcroft TV at the time.
On Monday morning the thirty-year-old model came back on “This Morning,” this time pregnant and accompanied by her new husband Michael Eurwen, also white by birth and black by melatonin. Big said that after three sets of injections, she finally sees herself as a “really 100 percent” black woman (a year ago she only identified as “80 percent black.”)
She told the incredulous hosts that her doctor had reassured her that her baby is also quite black.
“They said that they will be black,” she said.
“And if the baby is not? Because biologically I can’t see how that’s possible,” host Holly Willoughby asked tentatively. “If it’s not, will you still feel close to a white child? Will you somehow feel that it’s not connected to you?”
“No,” answered Big. “It’s a mix of Michael and me. I’m pretty sure it will be black. Or if it’s milk chocolate or a little bit lighter, it doesn’t matter.”
Big, who had spent over $60,000 on surgeries, including breast enhancement, started the transition as a mere cosmetic choice. “I like the curves of black and I want to get them,” she said in 2017. But the process quickly overhauled her entire identity. (She compares her transition to a car being upgraded piece by piece until it’s completely different).
“The injections only started the process. But being black is not just being different color,” she said. “It’s all― everything in total. For example, when I go outside now I’m getting in touch with the dark people much easier. When I compare to my African friends, I have more in common with them than with my German friends.”
Big recalled the moment of realizing she’s a black woman. She was at a swimming pool in Germany, surrounded by white folks.
“They look really pale,” she remembered thinking. “That’s the first time I felt strange between the white people and started thinking, this medicine is not working only for the skin. It’s changing everything together. The feelings change.”
She also lived several weeks in Kenya to learn about African culture. Spending time with the Maasi tribe, she learned “how to make fire without lighter and go to the river and collect the wood.”
Rebuffing accusations that tanning hormones do not a black person make, Eurwen, a former pilot who has known Big since college, insisted that through her transition, Big embraced black culture more fully than some biologically black Westerners.
“A lot of Afro-Americans they know nothing about the real African culture, they’re from the culture ‘America’,” he said.
As an aside, Eurwen mentioned despondently that the tanning injections have failed to bring him up to his wife’s skin tone. “I wish me a little bit more tan,” he said.
Big’s transformation exposes a tension inherent to progressivism. The fluidity of identity ― and the individual’s autonomy over it ― are staples of liberal identity politics. Yet at the same time, the left is extremely protective of certain experiences as unique and unrelatable. This is why, according to some liberal critics, white privilege debilitates a person from understanding the black perspective, and why cultural appropriation is seen as so repugnant.
I appreciate her interest and fascination with African skin tone and culture. But there is a thin line between appreciation and appropriation. Martina Big should have stayed on the appreciation side.
— deejay.hendrix (@untamedxbeauty) January 21, 2019
So what’s the verdict on white people identifying as black, whether for reasons intellectual or aesthetic? Don’t expect Big’s defiance of biology to lead to a modicum of introspection about the paradoxes of identity on the left. We’re more likely to see the “R” word invoked to preempt this troubling conversation before it even gets started.
Hi @thismorning why was #martinabig not directly called out on her racist behaviour during her interview with Holly&John today? The woman has darkened her white skin and identifies as a black woman yet I saw no attempt to tell her directly and ruthlessly how offensive she is.
— joanne mitchell (@joanne_94) January 21, 2019