Mugshot challenge: what is the controversial TikTok trend sparking a backlash against influencers?

Social media users say the challenge is 'triggering', claiming that it glamorises violence

Corinna Kopf and James Charles are among the influencers who have tried the TikTok mugshot challenge. Corinna Kopf/James Charles/TikTok
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Many people have a lot of time on their hands right now. It’s only natural, then, that social media has become the go-to source of entertainment, leaving our feeds flooded with challenge after challenge, as people try to find a way to pass the time.

But the latest viral TikTok challenge has sparked controversy online, landing a number of high-profile influencers in hot water with followers.

The "mugshot challenge" tasks users with making themselves up as if they were having a police mugshot taken, with many people choosing to don faux black eyes or bloodied lips. They often pose with tear-stained eye make-up and messy hair, insinuating they had been involved in a violent encounter.

Make-up influencer James Charles shared his attempt at the mugshot challenge on Instagram. James Charles / Instagram

The likes of James Charles, Hype House’s Avani Gregg and Vlog Squad’s Corinna Kopf have all taken part in the challenge, the hashtag for which has been viewed more than 155 million times on the video-sharing social media platform. But they are now facing backlash with people claiming the challenge is glamorising violence.

Many social media users said they found the challenge “triggering”, and called for images to be removed.

In response to Charles’s attempt at the challenge, one user wrote: “I don’t understand why this would be a trend. I love James, but it’s not fun having your face bruised and not being able to cover them up. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but this made me feel really uncomfortable because I couldn’t take mine off. It made me feel so dehumanised.”

Charles, who has more than five million followers, compared the image to scenes of a bloodied nose in a music video by Billie Eilish and cover art from The Weeknd’s latest album.

James Charles compared the challenge to images used by popstars The Weeknd and Billie Eilish. Twitter 

However, he has now deleted the image, saying “despite 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".

Kopf has also subsequently deleted the image from her social media.

The challenge has also sparked backlash from people who have been arrested and had real mugshots taken in the past. “This is not funny,” wrote one user. “This was a real low point in my life.”