The TikTok scandal surrounding Sophia Tuxford and Cinzia Baylis-Zullo’s game The Girls Bathroom

Posted by Chloe James in Comment

4 months ago

Few people can say they thrived in 2020, but Sophia Tuxford and Cinzia Baylis-Zullo are the exceptions. The vlogging duo – who first started building their YouTube empire in 2014 – have gone from strength to strength over the past year, overhauling their aesthetic, racking up a combined Instagram following of 822K+, and reaching ten million listeners with their podcast, The Girls Bathroom, which is set to go on tour this winter.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast, the name tells you everything you need to know. A recreation of the stereotypical atmosphere of a girls’ toilet on a night out, it’s all about gossip, drama and, most importantly, fun. When the pair announced their latest project earlier this month, it sounded like a logical evolution of this brand: a drinking card game, infused with the same energy as the show and described as “perfect for pre-drinks”, because it’s “designed to get you drunk”.

There’s just one problem – it’s not the first game “designed to get you drunk”. Over on TikTok, user Alaw Llyfni shared a video of herself as a clown to lament “sending your card game to your fave influencers just for them to copy the idea and make their own”. Her own drinking card game, Bish Bash Bosh, markets itself with a very familiar slogan (it’s the game designed to “get you sloshed” rather than “get you drunk”), contains similar cards and drinking prompts, and boasts an equally similar pastel aesthetic.

Over 600K views and 50K likes later, Alaw returned to TikTok to explain the situation further. Earlier in the spring, Sophia and Cinzia mentioned in a vlog that they wanted more card games. Alaw, being a fan, contacted their manager to send Bish Bash Bosh. The email was included in her second TikTok, as was the radio silence that followed once the game was sent out. Then, three months later, Sophia and Cinzia released their own.

We’ve seen this pattern before. Popular creators have repeatedly been accused of lifting ideas from those with smaller followings. American influencer Danielle Bernstein’s brand WeWoreWhat continues to thrive despite numerous allegations of copying multiple pieces from small businesses like The Great Eros and Foundrae. Blogger Arielle Charnas faced controversy when a dress from her line Something Navy bore more than a passing resemblance to one from designer Juan Carlos Obando. And when James Charles launched his own merchandise in 2020, Hila Klein – who has 25m fewer followers than James – pointed out how much it looked like her own line.

When this kind of thing happens, responses tend to follow a pattern. They are defensive and dismissive – if a response is even issued at all. When it comes to The Girls Bathroom, Sophia and Cinzia have (mostly) opted for silence. While there was a briefly-live Instagram Story in which the pair addressed the situation, this appears to have swiftly been removed. The only visible sign of drama on The Girls’ Bathroom Instagram page is a flurry of comments supporting Bish Bash Bosh and clashing with those defending the girls themselves. Comments were later disabled to rein in the backlash.

Maybe the similarity is a total coincidence. Sophia and Cinzia may have been mapping out the game long before they received Bish Bash Bosh. They always lean towards pastel aesthetics, and Bish Bash Bosh definitely didn’t invent the concept of a drinking card game. But that’s not really the point. Alaw’s TikTok said it best: it’s a “massive disappointment” when a “small business puts so much time and effort into something, and they get it a lot easier”. TikTok’s support meant Alaw sold 200 packs in the aftermath, but Sophia and Cinzia completely sold out of The Girls Bathroom card game in the space of 24 hours. This doesn’t quite sit right when the former was the product of years of solo hard work and the latter is a side-project commissioned out to designers by YouTubers already enjoying sky high success elsewhere.

Ultimately, nothing is going to break this pattern. Bigger names will always have an advantage, and their voices will always be louder. It’s just disappointing to see another missed opportunity to support small businesses – especially when their own frustration is completely ignored by the influencers in question. Sophia and Cinzia will thrive with or without The Girls Bathroom. The future of Bish Bash Bosh is slightly less certain.

By Chloe James, fashion and beauty editor of CORQ. Picture credit: The Girls Bathroom via Instagram.