“This can’t be bhad Barbie,” a third tweeted in disbelief. The drastic alteration has also prompted conversations about white womens’ obsession with Black skin, especially as it pertains to the aesthetics and nuances of Black womanhood.
“omg. I didn’t even know this was the bhad barbie chick. she looks like a full on black girl now…,” a second user commented.
Danielle Bregoli, originally known by her Dr. Phil appearance as the “Cash Me Outside” girl, is no stranger to the conversation of cultural appropriation.
Now, the 17-year-old is facing blackfishing accusations online in light of her new drastic change in appearance. On Monday (April 6), Bregoli popped up on Instagram and posted two videos from what appears to be inside her home. In the clips, she gazes into the camera as she shows off her long, Black tresses. Her skin is visibly tanned darker than its usual shade.
In December of 2019, she caught flack online after she posted a photo of herself with her hair done up in box braids. In response to the backlash, the then-16-year-old lashed out on Instagram where she derisively chided Black woman for wearing wigs and weaves. “To all the black females that are saying my hair [ain’t] meant for box Braids, guess the f*ck what, y’all hair [ain’t] meant to be straight but y’all glue whole wigs on to your heads and sew Brazilian/Indian/Peruvian hair which [isn’t anything] like your natural hair texture at all,” she wrote in her Instagram Stories.
“If you told me this was [the] same shawty, I wouldn’t believe it,” one user captioned a photo of Bregoli from her infamous appearance on Dr. Phil.
Written by BET Staff
Published April 6th
See the Internet’s reaction to Bhad Bhabie’s new look below:
“What in the blackfish is Bhad Bhabie doing???”
Staying relevant in the media bought Bhad Bhabie seven months to put out her first song, but having one popular song didn’t prove that she could make it as an artist. She needed to be consistent to show that the viewership on her first song didn’t just result from her viral infamy.
And it wasn’t; she hit the nail on the head when it came to Instagram and Twitter too. To date, she has amassed nearly 17 million followers on Instagram and over 500,000 followers on Twitter. When I asked Roof about Bhad Bhabie’s incredible social media growth, he told me: “being so young and so unfiltered and so brash made her an excellent fit for social media.”
He told me: “What you’ve seen is just her own personal growth. She’s 16 years old. I signed her when she was 13. Anyone that has lived through those years knows a lot of maturing occurs, and a lot of mistakes take place during these ages.”
When Danielle Bregoli went on Dr. Phil in September of 2016, she was “car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old,” and her mother simply couldn’t deal with her anymore. The episode was a moment of infamy, giving rise to the viral “Cash Me Ousside” meme. Afterward, Danielle left the show to go to rehab, with high hopes to turn it all around. But, like with any troubled teen, the odds were stacked heavily against her.
“She’s probably the most famous 16 year old in the world and does massive numbers on socials. More importantly, people are generally interested in everything she does, whether they like her or not,” Kluger told me. “For an edgy brand, she’s the golden goose.”
With millions of followers across a variety of social channels, Bhad Bhabie had flexibility. Music videos helped promote her music on YouTube, while Twitter hyped up her music prior to releases. Instagram? Well, it allowed her to connect with her fans on a more personal level.
For artists, their fans define their careers. And so, being able to engage frequently with large numbers of fans at a time over social media helps build traction in-between music drops and shows. Roof adds, “Gatekeepers can keep you out of certain things but having millions in your own audience makes a lot of that less impactful.”
But her success was no fluke, and to get behind the scenes and learn about how Bhad Bhabie came to be, I had to chat with Adam Kluger and Dan Roof, the music managers that signed her on day zero, when she had absolutely no music experience. They guided her through what seems like impossible growth looking back, and remarkably, their blueprint makes it sound easy.
Bhad Bhabie’s way of staying relevant would be difficult to replicate, but Kluger’s core point is valid. The difference between a fad and a sustainable career lies in staying relevant. Though Bhad Bhabie needed time to develop into an artist, she needed to stay relevant for long enough to put out music. She couldn’t let Dr. Phil be her legacy.
She went from minor Dr. Phil guest to highly successful rapper and influencer.