How TikTok's Silhouette Challenge Went From Empowering To Dangerous

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Silhouette Challenge

A viral new TikTok trend has taken a dangerous turn after internet creeps began editing the videos to expose women’s bodies against their will.

In the “silhouette challenge,” users post clips of themselves standing in doorways before stripping down and posing or dancing seductively, with back-lighting and a red effect that transform their figure into a black shadow.

The videos are set to a mash-up of Paul Anka’s 1959 hit song “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and Doja Cat’s “Streets,” and most use the Snapchat filter “Vin Rouge.”

The trend rose to popularity last week, and the #SilhouetteChallenge tag has already amassed over 500 million views. 

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Even celebrities, including Chloe Bailey, Tiffany Haddish, and Lizzo have shared their versions of the sexy challenge.

TikTok creators used the trend to promote positive messages of body confidence and sexual freedom. Many took the opportunity to build each other up with compliments and encouragement.

But the challenge’s empowering intentions were hijacked recently in favor of voyeuristic sexual gratification, as internet users have been sharing ways to remove the filters from posts and expose nude or semi-nude images of their subjects. 

Multiple Twitter accounts and at least one Reddit thread providing such instructions and sharing the manipulated images have been removed, but the silhouette challenge is still far from safe. 

A simple YouTube search produces numerous tutorial videos with different methods of removing the filters, as well as compilations of non-consensually edited clips. Several Twitter users have urged the site to ban videos that provide such instructions.

“This is a huge consent violation,” one user pointed out.

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Furthermore, editing the videos to reveal more than the original creator intended is apparently a very easy process.

TikTok user @lostvsnryshots posted a PSA on the subject. Citing her experience as a photographer, she urged potential participants in the challenge to “make sure you’re being cognizant of what you’re wearing before you actually do all the editing.”

“Anyone can easily take those images and revert them back to the original,” the artist warned.

Some commenters recommended wearing tight clothing such as leggings and a tank top to participate in the challenge, while others planned to avoid it altogether.

Some objected to the claims, but others corroborated them. 

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“I have like 4 hours of photoshop experience from high school that I graduated in ’06,” one user wrote, “and I could figure out how to do it in probably 10 minutes.”

Although it is not actually possible to revert the videos to their original form, they can easily be edited to make silhouettes more visible. 

An app member under the name @hannahbethbatman shared an example in which she doctored her own post. 

“I don’t have any editing skills,” the creator emphasized, “but I did something, and….”

She then revealed the result of her amateur effort, which was a significantly clearer image.

Hannah ended the video with an urgent appeal to “please be careful with this trend!”

The overall message: if you attempt this challenge, proceed with caution.

And make sure you feel comfortable sharing whatever lies beneath the glowing red curtain of Vin Rouge.

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Allie McGlone is a writer who covers a variety of topics for YourTango, including pop culture and entertainment.