What Is The Mugshot Challenge On TikTok — And Why Are People So Mad At James Charles Over It?

Was James Charles glamorizing abuse?

What Is The Mugshot Challenge On TikTok— And Why Are People So Mad At James Charles For It? Getty

The burgeoning social media app TikTok is home to some of the craziest, and most original, challenges. However, this latest viral challenge has sparked a bit of controversy thanks to celebrity makeup artist James Charles, who threw himself in the middle of the challenge and sparked yet another debate about what is considered acceptable and/or offensive behavior on social media. Sure, Charles said his rendition of the mugshot challenge was a "joke," but was he really trying to send a deeper message or create another wave of publicity for himself?


What is the mugshot challenge, and why are people so angry with James Charles over it?

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First of all: What is the mugshot challenge? 

The mugshot challenge features users making themselves looking like they'd just gotten arrested. 


The "mugshot challenge" is a viral challenge on TikTok that was inspired by the iconic arrests of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie back in the early 2000s. Fans wanted to see what they would look like if they ever got arrested without actually being arrested, so they created this challenge and the trend spread like wildfire.

Yes, there are tutorials available for how to take the best mugshot ever for the mugshot challenge. 

Though there are many tutorials available for participants who want to take the best mugshot ever, one of our favorites is courtesy of Doja Cat, who said that she was inspired by TikTok user StinkinStinker to create a totally awesome mugshot. Check out her tutorial below.


##mugshotchallenge  I might just be cute enough to get arrested inspired by @stinkinstinker ##foryou ##fyp ##houseoftiktok

♬ Boss Bitch - Doja Cat

James Charles came under fire for posting a "mugshot" that make it look like he was being abused. 


Celebrity makeup artist James Charles, like many other social media celebrities, participated in the mugshot challenge. Naturally, when he posted his photo, he looked like he was being "beaten up," and it didn't take long for him to come under fire from fans. Check out his "mugshot challenge" below. 

People were enraged by his take on the challenge. "Imagine being domestically abused is a makeup look," wrote one fan Twitter.


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Other people pointed out the problem behind making a "mugshot" look like the participant was getting beat up when people of color face police brutality every day. 

"Y'all be like 'mugshot challenge' but ignore the mass incarceration rates in the US," wrote one fan. "White people doing fake mugshots like? Since when did mass incarceration become cute?" wrote another fan. "Black and Brown people face disproportionate rates of incarceration, but yts are turning fake mugshot pics into a trend?" wrote yet another fan.

This isn't the first TikTok challenge that has come under fire for allegedly "glamorizing" abuse.


Just three days ago, several TikTok influencers came under fire for allegedly "glamorizing" domestic abuse when they posted yet another viral challenge designed to "bring awareness" to the issue of domestic violence,but instead seemed to "glamorize" domestic violence. It didn't take long for that challenge to die out, however.

Charles claimed he wasn't trying to glamorize abuse at all. 

In response to one fan detailing the extent of her injuries suffered at the hands of an abusive partner, Charles immediately clarified that he wasn't trying to glamorize abuse at all. 

"I’m so sorry that you went through something so awful and traumatic. it’s a tik tok trend going around where people post their “mugshots” and has nothing to do with domestic violence whatsoever. love you," he said.


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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.