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Can You Really Gatekeep A TikTok Trend?

Make sure you ask permission to use a sound before your next post.

Daniel Constante / Shutterstock

Several Tiktok users have been trying to gatekeep trends, claiming that some trends are only made for certain communities on the app. Ranging from the light-hearted ‘Blonde’ trend started by Maisie Peters’ song to the more serious ‘Fat Funny Friend’ trend from Maddie Zahms’ song, users are left wondering if they qualify to use their sounds.

What Is Gatekeeping?

The definition of gatekeeping is ‘the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something’ and has been common since before Tiktok was popular. From books and clothes to restaurants and bars, people love to keep their favourite things to themselves. The newest thing the app is gatekeeping is trends that use certain sounds. Some users claim that a few trends on the app are only meant for a specific community of people and that anyone else using the sound or participating in the trend is disrespecting that community.

The problem with gatekeeping a trend is that the users on Tiktok can be seen to be invalidating other users’ feelings. It has got to the point where people have directly asked the artists if they can use their songs, resulting in the artists posting videos confirming that their music is for everyone to use.

@maisiehpeters was getting a lot of questions about blonde so decided to answer them all with a useful visual guide &lt3 #songofthesummer #newmusic #livelaughlove ♬ Blonde – Maisie Peters

Maisie Peters demonstrates the most recent case of this. After the release of her latest song, ‘Blonde’ on Tiktok, people began to use the sound to show off their hair transformations. In a Tiktok she recently posted, she revealed that many people had asked her questions about her latest single. She confirmed that brunettes could use her sound and later in the comments included redheads and dirty blondes.

In the video, Maisie addresses that the song is not actually about being blonde. It is more about the feelings behind the song. It does not matter what colour your hair is; anyone can relate to a messy breakup.

‘Blonde is not a hair colour. Blonde is a movement. Brunettes can participate in the ethos of Blonde.’

@maddiezahms #duet with @i.sarai ♬ Fff – Maddie Zahm

This is not the first time an artist has had to address questions about who can use their sound to participate in a trend. In January, Maddie Zahms released ‘Fat Funny Friend’ and people began to use the sound to show their experiences of body dysmorphia. The trend caused a lot of controversy over who could participate in it as users tried to gatekeep the sound, claiming that it was not for ‘skinny’ people.

A user posted a video addressing how some users had been invalidating others with comments such as ‘you’re not fat enough to use this audio.’ Maddie duetted the video saying that the song is for ‘anyone that’s struggled with ED and body dysmorphia,’ but people still left comments such as ‘people pleaser.’ Some users insisted that the song was not for everyone because someone who is considered skinny would have a completely different experience of these issues compared to someone who is considered fat.

Gatekeeping trends is far more damaging than the usual gatekeeping outside of the app. This is not just about wanting to keep your favourite book to yourself. Anyone can feel the chaotic feelings of ‘Blonde’ without actually being blonde, and anyone can feel the effects of body dysmorphia no matter what size they are. Feelings are universal, even if the experiences are individual. These trends on Tiktok should be a way to bring people together, not invalidate people’s feelings.

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