TikTok skin trend accused of ‘promoting colourism’

A composite grid shows people who react to the online trend

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The trend has reignited the debate on colorism in India and beyond

A viral tendency of TikTok in India has been accused of promoting colorism.

It involves users who digitally darken their skin color and look sad – before revealing their natural, lighter tone in the end and smiling.

Colorism is a prejudice against people who have a darker skin tone or preferential treatment of those who are of the same race but with lighter skin.

A huge backlash pushed the cancellations and asks TikTok to delete the videos.

The trend, which began earlier this week, has reignited a huge debate about colorism in India and beyond.

He sees that users synchronize with their lips with a song from a Tamil movie called 3, with the lyrics of a “white-skinned girl” with a “black heart” and they gesticulate on the artificial skin tone.

Music has been used over 21,000 times, with videos receiving millions of views.

‘Black Heart’

Radhika Parameswaran, professor at the University of Indiana and commentator on colorism, says that this trend is disconnected from the original context.

In the film, a beautiful fair-skinned woman who has a “black heart” is impervious to the hero’s love. The song “did not refer explicitly to dark skin, but nevertheless the melodies and captivating lyrics of Kolaveri Di become creative fodders for these young people to stage their playful and dramatic performances of skin color that changes from dark to light”, he He said.

One user commented: “It shouldn’t be a trend. Every skin tone is beautiful, regardless of where you live or where you come from. We are all the same in this world.”

Kavipriya Vimalraj, who has 350,000 followers, reacted to the video in a “duet” that has been viewed over 215,000 times. He told the BBC: “Making this type of video indirectly by saying that people with a lighter tone are happier and nicer in society are not acceptable or true.”

But another user said that “if you know Tamil this is a love song”.

User @ nikhilsoni123, who created a video based on the trend, said: “Guys, this video doesn’t hurt anyone. I really agree that color shouldn’t matter! Color shouldn’t be celebrated! It was on trend, so we did. “

Game TikTok

Since the first video of this trend rose in early April, some films have been deleted. But many others remain on the platform.

Now videos of duets or reactions that identify racist or colorist videos are flooding the site, with some surpassing the views of the original videos.

User @ .ashakira commented on a reaction video that “many of them have disabled their comments because they are well aware of the backlash they are receiving”.

Some claim to have reported the video but that TikTok responded by saying that the videos did not violate their guidelines.

Kavitha Emmanuel, founder and director of the Dark Is Beautiful campaign, is confused by the message from these videos, but hopes that it will turn into a positive conversation about colorism in India. The trend “intentionally or unintentionally … the underlying toxic belief that measures a person’s value based on the color of his skin is emerging”.

“Observations are often seen as funny and we don’t realize how it hurts people.”

The TikTok community guidelines state that users should not post “content that dehumanizes or incites violence or hatred against individuals or groups.”

TikTok users worldwide have reacted to the trend.

Javier Felipe is Colombian and lives in Kenya. He is a verified creator of TikTok known as @afrobeatswithkamau and he made a reaction video calling the trendy racist.

“My first thought was that I was very shocked to see how this could take off as a trend,” he told the BBC.

“No matter where we are, how much we think our audience is, we need to know that our content is global. A simple video we make has global implications. People can’t see that you’re putting your people where there’s a story. of colorism in India, but imagine being in a global community, I live in Kenya and all my colleagues are shocked.

“I think one of the first steps is to have TikTok delete these videos but also use it as a learning moment to show everyone that your local trend can go global and be aware of what you are propagating in your content.”

The BBC approached TikTok for comment.

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