There’s a new trend on TikTok where cis, straight-presenting male creators post point of view (POV) videos of themselves fantasising about dates with women and how they would turn violent. After it picked up on the video-sharing app, critics have highlighted how the imaginary date trend breaks TikTok’s terms of service and promotes physical violence against women.
One user who has taken part in the worrying trend is Danny Garcia, who currently has just under 15,000 followers on TikTok. Sure, we’re not talking about someone who’s at a Charli D’Amelio level, but it’s clear that Garcia’s content still managed to impact a considerable part of the app’s impressionable audience.
In a now-deleted video, Garcia could be seen filming himself in selfie mode with the Frank Ocean song ‘Lost’ playing in the background and superimposed text that read: “Imagine we go on a cute picnic date and I pull out a knife to cut some fruit. But instead I cut ur throat and you just f*cking die lol.”
Another one said, “Imagine I take you to the Grand Canyon for our first date and I push you off the cliff and you fxcking die.”
On 15 March, female TikToker Kami Ratliff called out the trend and those participating in it by quoting the very same phrasing they use but aimed at exposing them instead. “Imagine being a woman and seeing all of these men fantasise about the ways they’d graphically kill you,” she wrote in her video’s caption. She also included the hashtags #domesticabuseawareness #domesticviolenceawareness and #domesticviolencesurvivor.
Nine creators, including Garcia, are shown in Ratliff’s video. Other imaginary scenarios exposed by Ratliff include “imagine we try BDSM, you let me tie you up then I just punch you in the ribs mad times,” and “imagine we go on a bowling date and I palm your scalp and throw you down the aisle and you die in the machine thingy at the end.”
TikToker Aiden Grollman posted a, you guessed it, now-deleted video that said, “Imagine we are on a date and then as you try to hold my hand I break your fingers and then proceed to body slam the fxck out of you.” After the Daily Dot reached out to him on Instagram, Grollman tried to justify that the trend is a “joke” via direct message.
Another teen male, user Eli Gibson created a now-deleted TikTok video in which he said, “Imagine we go to Topgolf and I miss every shot and your beating me by 30 so I take a driver and beat tf outta you and shove a 9 iron down your throat.” SCREENSHOT was unable to find his account on the app. No surprise here, Gibson also said that his video was a joke.
“I never meant any disrespect by it,” he told the Daily Dot on Instagram. “I literally just copied another [TikTok].” He continued, “I do not promote abuse against women.” Funny thing to say for someone who literally promoted abuse against women.
Ratliff also spoke to the publication and said that while she understood that the TikTok trend was mostly motivated by “boys looking for clout,” she was still “really disturbed” by the videos, especially those that were extra descriptive. “Being killed on dates is something women actually have to be fearful of,” she continued. “I also believe that there is truth behind every joke you tell.”
TikTok’s updated community guidelines state that “content that can cause discomfort, shock or disgust to viewers” may now be “ineligible” to be on a user’s For Your Page (FYP). And yet, here we are, witnessing teen boys trying to impress whoever they’re trying to impress—perhaps the cesspool of misogynists whose humour is anything but funny—by posting POV fantasies about hurting women.
Besides this specific trend, TikTok is home to more graphic, violent and abusive content. Although many have tried reporting some of these, TikTok has avoided deeming them as a violation of its content guidelines. Please, make it make sense.
While 2021 saw the trend of POV fantasy boyfriends rise to fame on TikTok, in 2022 it seems we’re getting an updated version of this imaginary boyfriend—one that disturbingly echoes society’s remaining problem of violence and abuse against women.
According to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey, in the UK from March 2020 to March 2021, police recorded a total of 1,459,663 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes. This was an increase of 79,407 from the previous year.
As reported by the United Nations (UN), globally, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, one in three women experienced physical or sexual violence, most likely from an intimate partner. Emerging data also shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19. Sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women continue to occur on the streets, in public spaces, at home and now, online. Survivors often have limited information and awareness on support services available to them and when they do, access is sometimes insufficient and finite. Heck, in some countries, resources and efforts were even diverted from violence against women response to immediate COVID-19 relief.
As much as we love how messed up and edgy gen Z humour can be, this trend is not a laughing matter—it’s not even acceptable. How much more will it take for the world to understand that saying #NotAllMen simply isn’t good enough anymore?
It has been proved that viral TikTok trends, especially when it comes to wellness and beauty, are bringing in big business for doctors. They’d kindly like it to stop. Because I’m also prone to my moments of online gullibility—I keep on meaning to try pesto eggs or cloud bread, along with a cup of lettuce water for a good’s night sleep, I just never find the time—I’ve made it my mission to help you pick the right trends to try at home. I’ve scoured the internet in search of the most viral ones, but I didn’t stop there. I made sure to get the opinion of real professionals (doctors, dermatologists, and beauty experts) before giving the green light to any of the following ‘tips and tricks’.
“I always know when something is trending on TikTok because I’ll have an influx of patients coming in and asking me about the same thing,” said Doctor Niket Sonpal, a gastroenterologist in New York, when speaking to The New York Times. Nine times out of ten, that “thing” is a beauty or wellness tip that’s gone viral on the app, without any evidence that it actually works or that it won’t harm you in the process. On the contrary, the advice given by some users may be outright dangerous, from drinking chlorophyll to lose weight to using sunscreen only in select areas of your face for a ‘natural’ contouring.
Even if their advice is not grounded in science, many content creators dare to share that kind of information if it means going viral on the video-sharing app. And what’s worse—it often works. Many users throw reason and caution to the wind when faced with these trends, underscoring a growing subversion of authority in which an influencer’s word is replacing that of experts.
Slugging is defined online as a Korean beauty skincare trend that includes coating your face in petroleum or Vaseline. “This prevents transepidermal water loss and keeps moisture in your skin. It’s best for dry skin types,” reads an article in the beauty-focused publication Byrdie.
The hashtag #slugging has just over 15 million views on the platform, and the trend has been promoted by influencers like Hyram Yarbro and Cait Kiernan. Yet dermatologists warn that it can have adverse effects on your skin.
“Putting an occlusive on your skin and letting it sit overnight sets you up for exacerbating clogged pores and breakouts,” Doctor Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in New York, explained to The New York Times.
Introduced on the app as “suntan contouring,” this trend encourages users to apply an initial layer of SPF 30 to their entire face and then layer a thicker SPF 90 only to its high points. The results, some TikTokers claim, make your face look “naturally snatched”—a term usually reserved for a sharp contour and healthy amount of highlighter.
What this ‘hack’ seems to completely ignore is the necessary (and dermatologist recommended) skincare practice we all know to be essential: protection from the sun. By adding the right amount of sunscreen only on high points like the top of the cheekbones and bridge of the nose, the rest of the face of many trend-followers is left to burn, not tan.
“What skin do you choose to age faster, expose to radiation more, and sacrifice to skin cancer? Do you want your cheeks to be more wrinkly? Or would you rather your jawline be saggier?” asked Doctor Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist, in another Byrdie article.
While this trend falls on the more harmless side of what fake hacks have to offer, it’s important to tell it like it is: drinking chlorophyll simply doesn’t work and is nothing more than a waste of your time and money. If people are seeing ‘results’ from drinking chlorophyll, it’s likely because they’re drinking more water than normal, so their skin is getting better and their bathroom trips are more regular. Other than that, not much to praise here.
Just as I was double-checking what I just stated above, Healthline confirmed what I initially thought, “Larger, more rigorous studies are needed to evaluate the potential health benefits of chlorophyll.” Until then, don’t waste your money and remember to drink (normal) water regularly.
Microneedling involves puncturing the skin with tiny needles in an effort to generate new collagen (usually on the face). On TikTok, conversation around at-home microneedling grew in 2020 and is already experiencing five times more engagement in 2021, according to Traackr as reported by The New York Times, but experts say it’s incredibly risky to do at home.
While some studies have shown that medical-grade microneedling can improve skin suppleness and lessen wrinkles, “it needs to be done in a really clean, safe setting,” Doctor Engelman said, pointing to the high risk of infection. “If you go hard enough on your skin, it can lead to colour change, textural change and scarring, essentially worsening what you’re trying to make look better, like fine lines and acne scars.”
Models like Aleece Wilson—who’s literally called @oddfreckles on Instagram—and Adwoa Aboah have been made famous by the perfect archipelago of the little brown specks across their faces. And fair enough, freckles can look amazing, even when fake. That being said, if you’ve been seduced by one of TikTok’s faux freckles trends, you’ve probably unknowingly played a good old game of Russian roulette with your face. Let me explain.
As freckles became very much in last year, TikTokers came up with a few different ways to get the look. Most of them were perfectly safe and usually resulted in a soft and natural look. All you had to do was to flick some henna at your face or draw teeny tiny dots on it using nothing more than an eyebrow pencil. So far so good.
Then appeared another fake freckles trend, one that I fully prohibit you from trying, which involves using a sewing needle and some ink to essentially tattoo freckles on your face. The needle is used to dot the ink onto the desired area of the skin.
The hack recently made headlines after Australian reality TV star Tilly Whitfeld ended up being hospitalised because of it. The celebrity posted a photo of her scarred face on Instagram, and wrote in the caption: “For those asking why I have my blue clay face mask on continuously throughout the show this is what my face looked like a week prior to entering the house hence why I always have makeup on and my skin is always covered. This is the result of attempting to remove scarring I inflicted on myself trying to replicate an at home beauty procedure I saw on a tik tok video 2 months before big brother… who bloody else would manage to do such a thing.”
According to HITC, Whitfeld used brown tattoo ink that she’d purchased off eBay to achieve the look. It turns out the ink she bought was counterfeit and had high levels of lead in it, which resulted in the nasty allergic reaction and infection on her face. Nope, thank you very much.
Stories like Whitfeld’s have doctors hoping that the companies running these platforms will place disclaimers on beauty content stating that it’s unverified or dangerous to try at home, but they’re not holding their breath. In the meantime, make sure you reach out to a real doctor before putting your faith in a TikTok video with millions of likes. Sounds almost counternatural, I know.