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courtesy of Twitter/@jamescharles

There’s a new ‘mugshot challenge’ on TikTok and it’s fucked up


TextAlex Peters

Let’s call time on this ignorant selfie trend

Challenges on social media can be a lot of fun and have been a large part of the success of platforms like TikTok. Sometimes, however, when everyone is doing something, it can be easy to get caught up in it and not take the time to think about what you are doing. This latest challenge is the perfect example.

Making the rounds on TikTok and other social platforms, the tone-deaf “Mugshot Challenge” sees people posting fake mugshots of themselves, more often than not with cuts and bruises covering their face. There’s a lot of bloody noses, a lot of black eyes, and a lot of people who should know better.

The #mugshot hashtag on TikTok currently has 109 million views with influencers including James Charles participating in the trend. It is, however, not a good look for a number of reasons. To begin with, the kids participating in the trend are overwhelmingly white. Black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities face disproportionate rates of incarceration in the UK and the US. While white people have the privilege of cosplaying being arrested, many people have to live with the reality of racial profiling and police brutality. 

The trend also glamorises violence, with many of the posts being oddly sexual, and survivors of domestic abuse have been calling out the trend as triggering and hurtful. Twitter user Carrie Day responded to James Charles’ post of the trend writing: “You know I had to have two nose surgeries due to domestic violence. My nose is still crooked. I am reminded of those moments every day. This is not a subject matter to take lightly. You should know better. You need to apologise to everyone. This is triggering and offensive.” While Kimberly Humbert wrote: “This is not ok. I’m disappointed in you again. This is not funny or cute! As a survivor of abuse it’s not cool.”

In response to these concerns, Charles replied to one follower stressing that any connection to domestic abuse was unintended. “hi babe, I’m so sorry that you went through something so awful and traumatic. It's a TikTok trend going around where people post their “mugshots” and has nothing to do with domestic violence whatsoever. love you,” he wrote.

TikTok has been used in much more positive ways, however, from mobilising fellow students to strike in solidarity with teachers and helping people who feel unsafe in taxis to celebrating natural beauty through art. 

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