- Julia Fox apologized for not knowing how TikTokers use the term “mascara” on the app.
- “Mascara” is a stand-in word used by TikTokers to discuss sex.
- Fox left a comment on a video in which a TikToker use the term to discuss their sexual assault.
Julia Fox apologized in a story posted to TikTok on January 27 for not knowing the colloquial use of the word “mascara” on the app.
On January 23, a man posted a TikTok with the on-screen text: “I gave this one girl mascara one time and it must’ve been so good that she decided that her and her friend should both try it without my consent.” Fox responded by writing: “Idk why but I don’t feel bad for u lol.” (TikTok stories only last for 24 hours, but you can view the footage reuploaded to Twitter here, too).
TikTokers quickly began blasting the “Uncut Gems” star for her response.
That’s because, in this case, “mascara” wasn’t actually mascara. As a workaround for content moderation of blanket terms, TikTokers will often use “mascara” as a stand-in word for sex, “mascara wand” as a replacement for the word “penis,” and “mascara tube” or “lip gloss” as a stand-in for the word “vagina,” for example. (The application of these terms among the app’s millions of users is not uniformly consistent, so context is best for determining what a given poster means). Importantly, “mascara” terminology is often used in videos regarding experiences of sexual assault.
A wave of comments and videos condemned Fox for callousness, including a seemingly joking response from the original poster, were posted across social media. Critics believed Fox to be “flippant about men being victims of SA.” (For a sense of the scope of the problem in the US, according to the National Sexual Assault Hotline, one out of every six American women has experienced “an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime” and about one in 33 men have experienced the same). On Fox’s account, users began leaving copy-and-paste “Idk why but I don’t feel bad for u lol” comments.
—JuliaFoxWhore (@JuliaFoxWhore) January 27, 2023
“I commented on a video because I thought this guy was talking about getting his mascara stolen by some girl and then the girl lent it to her friend,” Fox told viewers in her January 27 story, “and, as I read it, it just seemed so dramatic in the video and I was like, damn, don’t catch a case — it’s just mascara. But it was, in fact, not just mascara.”
Fox said she’d already apologized to the video’s poster, but also wanted to apologize to “everyone who has been a victim of you know what,” with the 32-year-old adding: “I’m really sorry, I’m really showing my age right now.”
The poster of the video Fox commented under declined to comment further, but told Insider that Fox “‘apologized’ on a video of mine but has not given me a personal apology through a message or anything like that.” (Quotations belong to the poster).
Users such as @niyxhwatson discussed the controversy, showing a screenshot of the since-deleted comment and the poster’s response.
In her response TikTok story, Fox also mentioned that the viral experience had opened her up to a wave of online harassment. “What I will say about this mishap,” Fox said, “is that a lot of men have now used this as an excuse to then come and abuse me. So I would just like us all to be aware that this is happening. I’m being abused by a lot of men right now. So girls, please have my back. Thank you.”
Some users accepted Fox’s explanation or believed it must be a miscommunication from the outset. Others, like popular creator @noahglenncarter, have critiqued Fox’s response, alleging Fox is also deleting TikTok comments as “the comment number on her newest TikTok keeps going down,” or that she was lying about understanding the terminology all along.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) or visit its website to receive confidential support.
Email tips on all things internet to firstname.lastname@example.org.