Woman Whose Photo Was Used To Prank A Young Child Into Thinking Their New Teacher Is Scary Explains How Hurtful This Trend Is

This seemingly innocent trend is actually more harmful than initially perceived.

Lizzie Velásquez tiktok trend prank @courtney_andcrew / TikTok

TikTok is no stranger to toxic trends, but this specific trend started off as seemingly innocent before being called out. The format begins with someone pretending to be on a FaceTime call; often, it's a parent showing their child their new teacher. The photo is usually pulled from the internet, showing an edited photo of a person or, in some instances, a person with a genetic condition. The reactions are typically that of disgust and surprise.


The trend has been used in a variety of other ways, but after one woman found herself to be at the center of the "joke" in one of these videos, she took to TikTok to speak about its harmful impact.

Her photo was used to prank a young child into thinking their new teacher was scary.

Lizzie Velásquez, a motivational speaker born with a rare disease called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, took to TikTok to share her thoughts on the new viral trend. Her condition, which prevents her from gaining weight, among other symptoms, has made her an inadvertent subject of this trend.



"TikTok, I need your help," she started in her video. "This trend where you are pretending to FaceTime someone who is either disabled or is a baby or some crazy mugshot and you're showing it to someone to get their reaction and saying, 'oh, hey, talk to this person just to get a quick laugh.' This is not funny."


Her plea was not just an indictment of a viral trend, but a call to action for adults to educate their children about empathy, kindness, and acceptance. "Please do not teach them that being scared of someone who doesn't look like them is okay. Please. Everything that these kids need to know about having empathy and being kind to one another starts at home," she said.

She clarified that many people in these photos are real and have feelings. 

Even those that use edited photos still reinforce the harmful message of unacceptance for those who look different from the 'norm.'

Her poignant words resonated with many, including a woman named Courtney, who stitched Velásquez's video and added her own thoughts on the matter.



"I'm sure like me when you saw this prank, you didn't think of the harm it could do. I couldn't imagine seeing my baby, myself, or my loved one being made fun of in this way," Courtney wrote, echoing Velásquez's sentiment. "We need to teach our babies that our differences are what makes us special. And to not be scared, or mean, or stare when we meet someone different from us! To kindly ask them about what makes the other person special if they are curious," she added.


Courtney then shared her personal experience of hearing one of Velásquez's motivational speeches and meeting her on a separate occasion, describing her as one the most "nice" and "inspiring" people she's ever encountered. She then called for an end to this trend.

tiktok trend teacher photo prankPhoto: TikTok / @hotmessexpress64

However, these criticisms of the trend were posted back in 2020, and it looks like the "prank" continues to make its rounds on the video-sharing app. Just one search of the hashtag "#teacherprank" on TikTok will reveal numerous videos still being uploaded of parents pranking their children with the same trend. 


Having fun with your kids is one thing, but doing it at the expense of others is another. Children shouldn't be taught to have a reaction of disgust when seeing someone who deviates from the normal beauty standard. Hopefully, Velásquez's words will reach more ears, and the perception of this trend will change.

Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.