A woman has penned a powerful response to a heinous TikTok trend where her photo was used as part of a ‘prank’.
The ‘New Teacher Challenge’ or the ‘FaceTime Prank’ is something TikTok users have been doing for a while now.
The parent usually asks their child if they would like to meet their new teacher, or speak with someone on FaceTime, while having a photo of someone else up on the screen to see what their child’s reaction is.
Melissa Blake is a writer and disability activist from the US and she recently wrote a powerful article for Refinery21, condemning the trend, after her photo was used.
Ms Blake was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome and she explained recently someone alerted her that her image was being used in this ‘trend’, however she was not surprised.
In the Refinery 21 article, she says as a disabled woman, being mocked for her appearance on social media is just “predictable” and she, of course, does not find the challenge funny, saying she was “disgusted”.
Many of the people who are participating in the challenge are parents and Ms Blake had a few pointed words for them.
“Adults who actually think this is okay, and worse... even funny, should know better. There’s absolutely no excuse,” Ms Blake wrote.
“They should be the ones teaching their children how harmful and hurtful these pranks are, not laughing in the background as their child recoils at the sight of a disabled person.
“We live in a society where people who look ‘different’ are seen as ugly and grotesque; those messages start being taught at a young age. Think about how many Disney villains have some sort of deformity.”
Ms Blake is not the only prominent person to speak out about the challenge, motivational speaker and author Lizzie Velasquez took to her social media accounts, including TikTok to condemn the challenge, after she saw one mother use her photo in the challenge.
“This is not funny, this is not a joke,” Ms Velasquez hit back in her own TikTok video.
“A mum was showing her son a video of me, or a picture of me saying, ‘This is your teacher for the new school year’, and he had a scared reaction on his face.
“If you are an adult who had a young human in your life, please do not teach them that being scared of someone who does not look like them is okay.”
Ms Velasquez then goes on to say everything children need to understand about empathy “starts at home” and called for the trend to stop.
Speaking to Yahoo Life (US), Ms Velasquez said she, like Ms Blake, knew this was coming.
“I knew in my gut my photo was going to be used,” she said earlier in August.
“After dealing with things like this for a while now, I can sense when this might happen.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.