Another viral TikTok challenge has come under fire as a potentially harmful influence on young people. The “mugshot challenge” has users of the social media platform posting fake mugshots, complete with makeup simulating bruises, cuts and other injuries. While the trend seems to be gaining in popularity, there has also been a swift backlash online from people saying it glamorizes or makes light of domestic violence and incarceration.
Where the Mugshot Challenge Began
The trend reportedly originated when one TikTok user posted a video with the caption, “After I saw Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s mugshots I’ve always wanted one! But of course don’t wanna get arrested so I’m doing it myself :).” The clip, tagged with the hashtag #mugshotchallenge, shows the user applying dark, runny eye makeup before posing for mugshot-style snapshots.
Since then, the mugshot challenge has appeared in numerous posts across several platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. It has recently gained traction thanks to posts by beauty influencer James Charles and video game streamer Corinna Kopf.
Charles posted photos to his Twitter and Instagram accounts on Sunday, April 5 that showed him sporting a simulated black eye and bloody nose. The Instagram post, which has currently garnered over 1.5 million likes, was captioned only with the word “mugshot.” The Twitter post gained nearly 65,000 likes before Charles removed it.
Meanwhile, Kopf posted images to Twitter and Instagram with the caption “mugshot” on the same day, showing her with a makeup-produced bloody nose. The Twitter post has since been removed, but the Instagram post remains with just over 565,000 likes.
A Swift Backlash
While the posts have garnered a lot of attention from fans, not all of it has been positive, with many social media users saying the trend is in poor taste. In response to Charles’ Twitter post, one user tweeted “violence isn’t an aesthetic.”
Others shared their stories of domestic abuse, including one user whose injuries required multiple surgeries. “This is not a subject matter to take lightly,” the user said. “You should know better. You need to apologize to everyone.”
Kopf’s posts have also drawn the ire of social media users. “Cases of domestic violence are surging,” pointed out one Twitter user. “I couldn’t imagine anything more tone-deaf and insensitive right now.”
Another user tweeted, “[N]one of these people will ever live in fear of a corrupt and prejudice system and [they’re] out here [romanticizing] jail and violence whilst domestic violence is on the rise due to quarantine, wrap it up, folks!”
One Influencer’s Response
Between the two influencers, only Charles has responded to criticism over the posts, replying to a user who had shared her domestic abuse story. “Maybe I’m being too sensitive but this made me feel really uncomfortable because I couldn’t take [my bruises] off,” the user tweeted.
“I’m so sorry that you went through something so awful and traumatic,” Charles replied in a comment. “[I]t’s a tik tok trend going around where people post their ‘mugshots’ and has nothing to do with domestic violence whatsoever. [L]ove you.”
After deleting his original post, Charles shared a follow-up statement to Twitter. “[D]espite the fact that hundreds of other influencers and artists have done something similar, I deleted the mugshot trend because it was never my intention to trigger anyone & it’s a waste of time trying to have an open discussion with people who hate me regardless,” he said.