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A viral TikTok challenge has been accused of promoting colourism


TextDominic Cadogan

The challenge, popular in India, see users darkening their skin before celebrating their lighter complexion

If you’ve been desperately trying to find a way to pass the time during lockdown – you know, other than shaving your head or playing Animal Crossing – it’s likely you’re one of the 2 billion (yes, really) people who have downloaded TikTok. Making up 611 million of those 2 billion, India tops the chart for the most TikTok-obsessed in the world, doing viral dance challenges just like the rest of us.

However, a new challenge on the app is causing controversy and has been accused of promoting colourism. Taking a clip from a song called “Why This Kolaveri Di”, the lyrics mention “white girl skin” with a “black heart”. The accompanying videos see users darken their skin while looking sad, before switching to their normal (lighter) colour and smiling or celebrating. 

According to the BBC, many of these videos have been deleted by the platform, but there are others that are being added daily, with some not seeing the challenge as an issue. Others have taken to filming their own versions without darkening their skin, to educate those participating. “Let’s not promote racism, all tones are beautiful,” reads one video by @dipta_talukdar

Colourism is a prominent issue in India, with actress and model Nidhi Sunil previously penning her struggles with success in an industry that favours fair skin on Dazed Beauty – read more here

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