The Scar Girl TikTok debate exposes the dark side of social media
Let the Scar Girl TikTok drama be a reminder to use those FYPs for fun dances and makeup hacks, *not* to scrutinize someone's appearance
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Social media should be enjoyable, but it has its pitfalls: Scar Girl, TikTok's latest target, knows this well.
Two of many trending hashtags on TikTok include #ScarGirl, which has reached close to a staggering 495 million views, and #ScarGirlExposed, which comes in at a lower but still impressive 36 million views.
Annie Bonelli, the 18-year-old behind the viral nickname, is just like the rest of Gen Z: she dances and lip-synchs to the best TikTok songs and posts fun moments alongside friends, but her facial features have exposed her to attention, scrutiny and torment.
"I feel like on social media people get so comfortable, especially with influencers in general, to make comments on things because they don’t always view them as real people. Like, I’m a real person," she told NBC News (opens in new tab).
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed teen posted a video on the app several years ago that revealed a scar on her left cheek that developed when she was 15 years old. In some videos, it appears more pronounced than in others, which ultimately caused app users to question its authenticity, which in turn spiraled into a very viral debate.
From messages of support to jeering comments and videos, Bonelli has seen a little bit of everything. Even alleged professionals in the dermatology field are using the platform to weigh in on whether or not "Scar Girl" is telling the truth about the mark on her face.
@doctoryoun (opens in new tab) ♬ Roxanne - Instrumental - Califa Azul (opens in new tab)
What's going on with the Scar Girl TikTok drama?
Although people are arguing about Annie's facial features, no one knows what happened to leave her with the permanent mark, and that's exactly how she intends to keep it. She wants the personal experience to remain just that—a fact that has spurred even more debate.
"Looking in the mirror, sometimes it can be hard because I know exactly where it’s from," Bonelli further revealed to NBC. "But at the same time, I feel like in a way it’s empowering. It’s like, you know, I got through that."
But regardless of whether or not the scar is real or fake, these viral debates and cruel comments have shown us how increasingly toxic social media can become. The intent of these platforms is to bring people together and allow them to bond over shared interests, but they can quickly become places for hatred and negativity. Why are we fixating on an 18-year-old's face scar, whether it's real or otherwise? Are there not more interesting finds to come across?
When speaking to psychology experts about Instagram and mental health in 2021, they suggested My Imperfect Life readers use the platform in a more mindful way to create a better experience, and the same could be said for TikTok.
"Does messaging a friend make you feel happy, connected? Does following a certain influencer make you feel worse? Pay attention to these feelings and adjust the way you use the platform accordingly," Jacqueline Nesi, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, previously told us.
The bottom line is that hiding behind an avatar and quirky username doesn't make nasty, hurtful comments acceptable, regardless of the subject you're commenting on. Let's all use those FYPs for some much-needed levity and fun #booktok recs instead!
@wtmab (opens in new tab)
hey guys, originally in March of 2020 when I was injured and realized that this would be a permanent mark on my face forever I was embarrassed. I was so upset that I thought my face was ruined as insecure as I was already at 15 navigating highschool. I felt like the opportunity to look at myself in the mirror and smile was taken away from me because of a cruel situation. It was until one day that I realized that covering my scar and openly hating it was a disservice to those close to me and myself suffering from insecurities. While I decided not to cover it for those reasons it never fully went away and neither did my insecurities because when I looked in the mirror I saw the reason behind why it was there. Unfortunately I had a poor reaction to the first topical I tried in an attempt to fade it. I was sloppy applying it as well and this led to a longer injury. I was in a dark place knowing that it was now even worse. I had to wait til that fully healed to start a second treatment which I began in august. Since then, this treatment has been super invasive and I cannot emphasize the pain directed around that injury. It’s at a point where it genuinely does look gross, it has risen and it’s scabbed over. I also did not think about how tanner would get in the scabbed area when I did it. It should get better with time but unfortunately all of my scars do still heal brown. While I don’t think it’s right that people mindlessly comment hate for whatever reason it is, I do make a decision to put myself out on the internet. My account was made to show those out there, they’re more than their scars. Not to have a comment section showing those same people they should hate themselves because of their scars. I’ll never stop using my platform for DV awareness and body positivity. I hope this video is what y’all need to move on or at least understand. No one should make a comment on someone’s scars, especially not knowing the history behind that scar or the person on the screen. If anyone ever needs to talk my dms are open, I would love to listen to your stories and hype y’all up. I promise I hear u and I see u. Thank you and I hope y’all will move with grace in the future.♬ MEAN! (Remix) [with Noah Kahan] - Madeline The Person (opens in new tab)
Should you or someone you know feel as though they're being bullied virtually, have a look at TikTok's mental health resources for support.
Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment.
The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets.
When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)
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