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This week in TikTok: The influencer hair salon that’s under attack

Plus, the cheesy dystopian YA novel your 12-year-old self definitely would have had a poster of.

Rebecca Jennings is a senior correspondent covering social platforms and the creator economy. Since joining Vox in 2018, her work has explored the rise of TikTok, internet aesthetics, and the pursuit of money and fame online. You can sign up for her biweekly Vox Culture newsletter here.

Hello from The Goods’ twice-weekly newsletter! On Tuesdays, internet culture reporter Rebecca Jennings uses this space to update you all on what’s been going on in the world of TikTok. Is there something you want to see more of? Less of? Different of? Email, and subscribe to The Goods’ newsletter here.

Influencer hair, the Instagrammifed cousin of TV hair, is one of those things where you know it when you see it: It’s always a little too long, a little too thick, a little too perfectly “beachy” when literally nobody’s hair has ever looked like that at the beach. Of course, there’s no way it could, because influencer hair isn’t their real hair: It is made of a lot of expertly placed and wildly expensive extensions, so that a 5-foot-2 Bachelor contestant’s head ends up looking like it weighs more than she does.

There are plenty of hair salons that will give you influencer hair should you choose to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for it, but there’s one that over the past year or so has become nearly synonymous with the genre: Habit Salon, and more specifically its owner, Chrissy Rasmussen.

Even before the pandemic, influencers deemed Chrissy worth the trip from Los Angeles to Arizona; for years, her popular Instagram @hairby_chrissy documented the hair transformations of recognizable reality TV stars, YouTube vloggers, and style bloggers. This year, she opened a West Hollywood offshoot, presumably to be closer to her target demographic.


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Because it’s 2020, that demographic now includes TikTokers. By summer, massively popular TikTok influencers were starting to appear on Hair by Chrissy’s social media pages. It was on these posts that viewers noticed a potential scandal: Despite large groups of clients and employees seen in the videos, there wasn’t a mask in sight.

You can probably guess what happened next: Commenters flooded not only Hair by Chrissy’s TikTok page but also her Instagram and Yelp reviews. Complaints about safety measures also evolved into criticism of Chrissy’s hairstyles themselves — hashtags like #hairbychrissyblockme and #hairbychrissyvibes are full of parody videos of the salon’s signature transformations. “Hair by Chrissy slander TikTok is my new favorite place to be it’s like every other video someone is coming for their neck and I’m here for it,” reads the caption on one popular video.

By October, “Hair by Chrissy” had become its own meme, a means of expressing frustration at influencers’ disregard for social distancing during the pandemic. Habit Salon and its owner are a perfect punching bag for average teens who watch famous TikTokers gleefully live their lives, while they have to stay home from school and can no longer participate in the kinds of activities that make being a high schooler bearable. It’s more than a fair critique: As Morgan Sung notes at Mashable, “If you don’t want to be shamed by Gen Z’s incredible talent for coming up with painfully specific insults, consider wearing a mask.”

I think it’s just as much critique of influencer hair in general, or at least what it’s come to stand for. Hair By Chrissy’s factory-like approach, chronicled in dozens of identical videos in which a beautiful woman enters the salon and leaves with the exact same uncanny valley mermaid hair, is a microcosm of the monotony of female beauty standards on social media. The collective distaste for this specific salon may have less to do with the lack of masks (influencers who’ve been filmed at giant parties clearly don’t care anyway), but with the idea that apparently in order to be considered a hot girl online, you have to get the same fillers, the same lashes, and the same Hair by Chrissy extensions as a certain segment of LA aspiring whatevers. It’s clear that we’re all sick of this — consider the popularity of intentionally bizarre cool-girl face filters! — which means that with enough time, the look will become played out. But yeah, until then, they should definitely be wearing masks.

TikTok in the news

  • In other juicy business drama, Triller, an app marketing itself as an “edgier” version of TikTok, was quick to bring on celebrity investors and paid TikTok stars to join its platform, according to a report from the Times’s Taylor Lorenz. The company has rented mansions, leased cars, and gifted its creators production equipment (including at least one helicopter) to get them to stay there, to the point where creators joke about how desperate it is.
  • This isn’t all that surprising, considering this Wall Street Journal explainer on Triller’s founders and their history of alleged fraud. The company is also rather litigious — it’s suing an app tracker that disputed Triller’s claim that it had 250 million downloads (according to the tracker, it was more like 52 million). Triller also happens to be the favorite shortform video app of President Trump, and followers of QAnon. Do with that information what you will.
  • Last week, the company/art collective MSCHF paid TikTok users to make videos about how awful certain brands are. Example: For $50, all you had to do is film a TikTok about Fashion Nova stealing designs and using sweatshop labor, and the resulting video had to get 25,000 views. It’s over now, but they’d like you to know that “these companies are still terrible.”
  • The co-head of United Talent Agency’s digital division is leaving to become the president of D’Amelio Family Enterprises, a media company led by teen TikTok stars Charli and Dixie and their parents Marc and Heidi. “I think they could be as big as any family that have taken over American media,” he said.
  • Here’s a really nice story from Julia Alexander at The Verge about how the skateboarding community is a lot more welcoming for women on TikTok than in real life.
  • Here’s another really nice story from Colleen Stinchcombe at Eater about how TikTok star Teena Thach is boosting BIPOC-owned Seattle restaurants while going viral on TikTok.
  • Stevie Nicks! Stevie Nicks! Stevie Nicks!

One Last Thing

The dystopian YA novel your 12-year-old self would definitely have a poster of.


dystopian YA novel vibes

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