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She says she had no idea ‘blackface’ was a thing.
If the concept for your viral beauty challenge involves seeing how well you can depict yourself as someone from another race, consider putting the makeup brushes down and step away from the camera. Or better yet, just learn from beauty blogger Vika Shapel, who’s facing backlash online after attempting to launch the “chocolate challenge.”
In an Instagram post, Shapel and a friend, both white, posed smiling with half of their faces made up to appear as if they were black—even going so far as to make their eyes darker with colored contacts or photo editing.
“Idk if there is a challenge like this but we haven’t seen it so I’m calling it the chocolate challenge!” Shapel captioned the photo. “Come watch us transform into deep chocolate skin tones from our pasty pale.”
“Chocolate challenge”? Transform? Deep chocolate skin tones? Yes, Shapel and her friend appeared to be pulling off blackface of Rachel Dolezal-size proportions, acting as if covering themselves in darker makeup was a game worthy of exuding the energy of other viral internet challenges.
Another YouTuber, Arnell Armon, was quick to call out Shapel (pictured right in the photo below), posting a screenshot of the white blogger’s Instagram photo and calling it “clearly blackface.”
— Arnell (@arnellarmon) July 9, 2017
Other Twitter users caught on to Shapel’s offensive photo, pointing out her ignorance to historical precedence and how we understand race today. Blackness isn’t a caricature for people to wear and remove as they see fit, no matter if it’s in during 1900s vaudeville, where white actors portrayed offensive black stereotypes, or for a YouTube beauty gimmick.
this "challenge" doesn't exist because people have common sense🙃😑😑😑 the disrespect… pic.twitter.com/j1SEXPdWhr
— Jasmine Brown (@JasMeannnn) July 9, 2017
"The Chocolate Challenge" is a funny way to spell blackface pic.twitter.com/NcqRfQ26xC
— LK (@_w0rmboy) July 10, 2017
The chocolate challenge. It's not "diversity", or a "bit of fun", or "playing with makeup". It's 100% blackface and it's 100% racist. NO https://t.co/MSRFptC4Ai
— Laila (@tapeparade) July 9, 2017
the chocolate challenge? since when was blackfacing and being RACIST a challenge? pic.twitter.com/3nL5te9p6G
— MakeupPOC✨ (@MakeupPOC) July 10, 2017
"Chocolate challenge" they said pic.twitter.com/uxwKRaYNg3
— haley (@sergeantdaddy) July 9, 2017
Oooohhh, we got it all wrong. Jim Crow wasn't a racist caricature meant to put down and oppress. It was just the chocolate challenge. Mb
— Matt Timmer (@MattTimmer1) July 9, 2017
Despite the internet’s insistence that Shapel’s look was racist, she told Yahoo Beauty that the was ignorant of blackface and its history of racism.
“I simply wanted to see how I looked in a deeper skin tone,” Shapel said. “I wasn’t aware of the whole black-face concept before people began commenting it on the photo. I would like to apologize to people that were hurt or offended by my post, and it won’t happen again.”
Several engaging in the conversation on Twitter shared they had reported Shapel’s social media accounts, while others discovered that her Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts were deactivated or made private. However, Shapel said it’ll be some time before she goes back to blogging.
“My accounts were deactivated due to overwhelming hateful responses. I wasn’t an active social media user before; it was just whenever desire sparked, so whenever I have that, then I will come back,” Shapel said.
Perhaps she may want to consult a different friend next time “desire sparks” to bend race in a beauty challenge.
H/T Teen Vogue
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.