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The Silhouette Challenge refers to a viral trend on TikTok where a person poses in front of a source of light, often an open doorway or a window, then cuts to an edited still image of themselves in a complete silhouette striking the same pose. The trend is closely related to the Anime Silhouette Challenge.
In July of 2020, the Anime Silhouette Challenge spread on TikTok, where users pose in front of a light source in order to silhouette themselves, then cut to a still image of themselves in that same pose only with an anime character's silhouette added into the picture (examples shown below, left and right).
On January 14th, 2021, @yoelise uploaded a video to TikTok showing off a raw photo of herself posing in an open doorway, followed by an edited version of the image made to look like a silhouette over a red background (shown below). The video garnered over 1.7 million views in 2 weeks and reignited interest in the trend sans-anime characters.
On the same day she uploaded a two-part tutorial on how to achieve the effect, garnering over a combined 3.1 million views in the same span of time (shown below, left and right). More simply, most users use the Vin Rouge filter available through Snapchat. The trend is typically set to a mashup of the songs "Streets" by Doja Cat and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" by Paul Anka.
On January 17th, 2021, @reyreytrinity uploaded a video to TikTok following the trend, garnering over 3 million views in 10 days (shown below, left).
On January 18th, @abryancat performed the trend on TikTok, garnering over 1.2 million views in a comparable span of time (shown below, right).
On January 21st, 2021, @jaydechandaa uploaded a video to TikTok where she follows the trend with a variation of a handstand (shown below, left). The video garnered over 2.9 million views in a week.
On January 22nd, @bbygshaii uploaded a video to TikTok performing the challenge, garnering over 2.3 million views in 6 days (shown below, right).
On January 28th, Distractify published an article on the trend, followed by HITC, The Tab, and PopBuzz.
On January 31st, actress Tiffany Haddish posted a version of the Silhouette challenge to TikTok (shown below) and Instagram with her boyfriend, rapper Common, garnering over 150,000 views on the former and 2.2 million views on the latter. On the same day, TMZ reported on the video.
On January 28th, 2021, simpagon 69 uploaded a video to YouTube titled, "HOW TO REMOVE RED FILTER FROM SILHOUETTE CHALLENGE!!!! (real)" which offers a tutorial on how to remove the red "Vin Rouge" filter from screenshots of Silhouette Challenge videos, allowing users to see the details of the participants' bodies (shown below, left). This is the first of many videos on YouTube offering tutorials on how to edit the photographs, the most popular of which reached over 164,000 views in 3 days (shown below, right).
There is no way to remove the red filter from Silhouette Challenge videos. Each tutorial shows users how to enhance various brightness and contrast levels of still shots from the videos in order to reveal more of what the raw photograph might look like.
Over the following days, as filter removal tutorials grew in popularity, the media began to report on them, warning people wanting to take part in the trend not to do so naked. On January 29th, HITC published a piece mentioning the tutorials, reassuring people that you can't actually "remove" the filter and reminding them to wear clothes while doing it.
PopBuzz, Daily Mail, Rolling Stone, and BuzzFeed News reported on the privacy concerns in the following days, among other news outlets.
On January 29th, @sw333tnothings posted a screenshot of a tweet warning users who performed the trend naked to remove their videos to TikTok, garnering over 1.5 million views in 5 days (shown below).
The tutorials received heavy criticism on social media. On January 28th, @jxmilladah accused those who remove the filter of being predators, garnering over 5,600 likes and 1,500 retweets in 6 days. On February 2nd, @lookitsboomi tweeted, "Y'all are down BADDDDDD" along with a screenshot of a tutorial on how to remove the red light filter, garnering over 69,000 likes and 15,000 retweets in a day (shown below, left).
 TikTok – Having too much fun making these
 TikTok – ib @jaydechandaa
 TikTok – pls do it, you’ll hold so much power & feel like a bad bitch
 TikTok – i 10000000% recommend doing this
 TikTok – everybody say thank you picsart
 TikTok – i’ll post part 2 in a bit :)
 TikTok – sorry it’s so rushed but here’s part 2
 Distractify – Chloe Bailey Just Broke the Internet With Her Rendition of the Silhouette Challenge
 HITC – HOW TO FIND THE VIN ROUGE FILTER – THIS RED EFFECT IS GOING VIRAL ON TIKTOK!
 The Tab – How do I do the TikTok silhouette challenge? A step by step guide
 PopBuzz – Everybody is doing the Silhouette Challenge on TikTok and we're living for it
 YouTube – Streets X Put Your Head On My Shoulder
 Twitter – Y'all are down BADDDDDD
 HITC – CAN YOU REMOVE THE RED FILTER ON THE SILHOUETTE CHALLENGE? FEAR RISES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
 PopBuzz – People are 'removing' the red filter on Silhouette challenge videos and it's not OK
 Daily Mail – Women are warned to avoid TikTok's viral Silhouette Challenge after 'creepy' videos emerge instructing men how to REMOVE the filter and reveal users' nearly-nude images
 Rolling Stone – YouTube Is Profiting Off Creeps Hacking a Sexy, Body-Positive TikTok Challenge
 BuzzFeed News – Women Are Warning Creators About The TikTok Silhouette Challenge
 TMZ – TIFFANY HADDISH PUCKERS UP WITH BF COMMON …In Steamy Silhouette Challenge
 TikTok – tiffanyhaddish2
 Instagram – For the Lovers
Feb 03, 2021 at 10:57PM EST
Feb 04, 2021 at 03:50AM EST in reply to
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