At this point, as if you needed examples to prove the fact, everyone knows that wearing “black face” is an incredibly offensive thing to do and when you see stories of students donning the makeup on their way to parties and such, it further compounds the idiocy and insensitivity.
But when people are doing it because they genuinely want to look that way, it provides a weird, uncomfortable grey area. Martina Big – the white model who now identifies as black – is evidence of that and now there’s sort of another person to add to the fray.
Now, Hannah Tittensor, 22, doesn’t identify as black and nor will she ever (I don’t think), but a lot of people are accusing her of being racist and culturally appropriating as she has become a tanning addict to such a degree where she no longer looks like a white person with a tan.
She says that she became addicted to tanning after a holiday to Turkey four years ago where, by her reckoning, she got an “amazing” tan.
Since then, she’s taken to using illegal tanning injections that use Melanotan, raising the levels of melanin, making her skin go darker when exposed to UV light.
Her boyfriend, Ben Dunlop, 23, also uses the same injections, albeit to a lesser degree, with Hannah, from Belfast, saying:
“Everyone is doing it. It’s become a trend in the city. Ben and I do the injections for about one week each month, where you have an injection before you go on the sunbed each time.
I just use the injections to top me up for that week, and then I stay really tanned all month.
I absolutely love the colour I go and much prefer this than spray or fake tan that’s smelly and makes you feel dirty. And it gets all over your clothes and bed.”
The first time Hannah got hate messages was in 2015, after her Turkey holiday where she got the initial dark skin. People accused the beauty therapist of trying to look black, as Hannah explained:
“Some people accused me of trying to look like a black woman. I’m not trying to do that at all, I just like the way my skin looks healthy and glowing with a tan.
Some girls can’t live without getting their nails or hair done and for me it’s tanning.
I’m always playing around with my look. I’ve been a skater girl, sometimes had more of a surfer hippy look, and now I like to look like this.“
Years later, in 2017, Hannah braided her hair which led to more outcry; mostly of people saying she was really culturally appropriating now.
“People were commenting on my photos accusing me of cultural appropriation and even saying that I was racist, just because of how I looked.
I’m not racist at all. I’m just a white girl who likes to be overly-tanned.
It seems like I am the worst person in the world just for tanning sometimes. It seems to offend people sometimes and I’m not trying to. It seems pretty harmless to me.
Every girl I see on Instagram is tanned. I know I’m at the extreme end but I like the way I look. I feel like me.”
Meanwhile Ben, her boyfriend, uses Melanotan for bodybuilding purposes. The injection is widely used in the bodybuilding community as it apparently makes muscles look better. Ben explained:
“I don’t compete in bodybuilding or go on stage, I just like to work out and feel healthy. Tanning is a big part of bodybuilding. A lot of bodybuilders take tanning injections.
My mum thinks I look like an idiot but I don’t care, I like it. I worry about Hannah sometimes because cancer runs her family, and she goes into the sunbed for longer than me usually. I normally do 10 minutes while she does longer.
I don’t have a history of cancer in my family so I don’t really worry about myself. I don’t know much about the side effects of the injections.”
Hannah says that she’ll go darker again in the summer and while that will spark up the abuse again, she doesn’t really care anymore, being that she’s used to it.