Enter the #Bratzchallenge: the latest beauty trend sweeping social media, in which individuals transform themselves into living Bratz dolls with the use of heavy makeup (and maybe a filter or two). Earlier this month, the official Bratz Instagram account encouraged beauty-obsessed fans of the dolls to share their Bratz-inspired makeup on the photo-sharing app. As of this article’s publication, over 34,000 people have used the challenge hashtag.
The results have been striking, to say the least:
Some individuals have created modern beauty looks inspired by the “ethnically ambiguous” yet “ethnically diverse” dolls, while others took things more literally, using makeup to make themselves look like cartoons.
A couple people have taken the challenge in a problematic direction by using makeup to mimic one Bratz doll’s vitiligo on their own skin or by verging on blackface. The attempts didn’t go completely unnoticed. Lauren Elyse, a beauty influencer who has vitiligo, tweeted about others using the medical condition as a beauty statement, writing, “I don’t need someone who doesn’t have it to ‘celebrate’ it or ‘raise awareness.’”
For the record, using makeup to make it look like you have vitiligo when you don’t is not OK. Blackface is not OK, either.
Cleary, a lot of these people have serious makeup skills. Not everyone can turn a plastic doll’s painted-on makeup into a wearable look ― though not necessarily for every day. Makeup is a form of self-expression, and there’s no denying a big part of this challenge falls in line with that belief.
But as a society, we also face some extremely unrealistic beauty standards that are perpetuated through social media. People are getting cosmetic procedures based on Snapchat and Instagram filters. Others have harmed themselves in attempts to achieve Kylie Jenner’s plump pout.
Using makeup to alter your appearance isn’t on the same level as changing the physical structure of your face, but it is another way our perceptions of beauty are changing through social media.