As the leading creator on TikTok, Charli D’Amelio has a lot of influence over what becomes popular on the app, but she isn’t having any of a new trend that seemingly makes a mockery of disabilities.
TikTok is built on trends; popular dances, songs, voice-overs, or jokes that are repeated and recreated by the millions of creators on the platform.
D’Amelio herself knows this better than anyone, as she has consistently been a trendsetter during her time on the app, which has seen her accrue over 50 million followers and literally billions of likes.
Most trends are innocent, a simple dance to a new catchy song for example, but some can take on a more sinister form. A ‘sound’ by user Zanayasligh instructs users to “break your wrist”, which is then imitated by contorting the hand as though they have had a spasm.
One TikTok user, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, said that the trend was “highly offensive” as it describes a pose “used by many with disabilities, largely including those with cerebral palsy, due to the weak muscles and their brain development.”
“Think of all the children and people you are insulting just because you think this is a ‘cool trend’.”
On Twitter, Charli used her massive audience to try to shut down the trend too. “Hello everyone, there is a sound going around on TikTok making fun of disabilities,” she wrote, explaining why it was unacceptable.
hello everyone, there is a sound going around on tiktok making fun of disabilities. that is completely unacceptable, wrong, and the fact that people think that the ”trend” is not disrespectful and disgusting is not okay!
— charli d’amelio (@charlidamelio) May 16, 2020
“The fact people think that the ‘trend’ is not disrespectful and disgusting is not okay!” Her Tweet was liked over 100,000 times in less than 24 hours, as fans praised her taking a strong stance on the controversy.
Although she may not have as many Twitter followers as she does on TikTok, D’Amelio’s voice carries a lot of weight on the video-sharing platform, and anyone who wants to avoid backlash will surely now avoid using the disrespectful sound.
Some have also questioned why TikTok itself hasn’t taken action against the sound and the many videos that use it. Perhaps now that their biggest star has spoken out though, things will change.