edge

Twin ON TikTok

My name is Zoë Lowden-Blaber and I stayed on TikTok even though I agree with my twin sister, Skye, that it’s toxic.

At my peak, I had nearly 600K followers and 27M likes. But now it’s dropped to 17M.

I tell overseas people I live in Barbados but I’m from Trinidad. Then they tell me, “You don’t sound either Bajan or Trini.” I think it’s because of all the diverse accents I grew up with: Mum’s British; Dad’s Trini; grandparents are Guyanese! So it all kinda mixes in.

I’ve spent most of my 18 years in Barbados but I still feel Trinidadian because most of my family is there. My Trini accent usually comes back when I’m speaking to Trinis.

In Trinidad, we were staying with my dad’s mother. And, after my parents’ divorce, she didn’t really want us anymore. So we stayed with our Granny June. Then my mum met my stepdad Craig, so we moved to Barbados, where he lived.

It was odd going to St Winifred’s primary school because, in Trinidad primary school, everybody was friends. They didn’t have cliques. I would go over to these girls and they would just ignore me. I was seven!

My twin sister is Skye and my half-brother is Elliot Reid. My mom is Jules Raven-Reid.

I’ve had my dog Buddy since I was 13, when I started getting, like, really into life. He’s been my best friend since. Every time I was sad, I would hug him. He’s the one thing that’s always been there, Buddy. I love that dog more than life itself.

My mum had told us we could get anything we wanted if we passed the 11-Plus. My sister said, “A laptop!” Me, being the smarter twin, knew they’d have to invest in a laptop for secondary school! I got into the St Michael School, went to the Ark animal sanctuary and picked out Buddy.

Yes, people were mean in secondary school but you learned quickly to get over it. You still cared but you learned not to show it as much.

In form one, I hung out with girls I knew from primary school [until] I realised I didn’t really fit in with them. They were the very cliquey “white group”. I was, like, that’s kinda wrong. You’re supposed to make new friends at a new school.

As a kid, you don’t want to be tall. You want to be the cute little thing that can get picked up. But, from third form, I LOVED being tall. If somebody was upset with you in secondary school, they ALWAYS wanted to fight with you. And they’d come up to me and I was, like, “What are you going to do! You’re so small!”

At first, I got made fun of as the one white girl who would not hang out with the other white girls. Then, as we grew older, it was, “the white girl who wants to be black”. From my experience in Trinidad, nobody was called “the white girl” or “the black girl” or any girl. It was just how you were as a person.

I got in trouble because my friends at school liked to braid my hair. I was 14 and wasn’t really educated about cultural appropriation. I got in trouble with my teacher. She told me I was appropriating black culture. But they didn’t teach us that! And it was my black friends having fun.

My mum was always working and Craig was always flying so Skye and I quickly learned how to catch ZR vans and Transport Board buses home. The whole class got detention once and the teachers told us to message our parents to pick us up later. I asked to leave early because I had to catch the bus home. The teacher looked me up and down and said, “Zoë, do not lie! You don’t catch a bus home! Somebody going to come for you!” And then she let another girl, who was black, go early. Because she had to catch a bus home.

Walking around Bridgetown one Saturday, my teacher stopped and asked me why I was in Town. I said I was looking to buy a shirt. She said, “But why aren’t you shopping at Limegrove or Sheraton Mall?” But Town has really nice cheap clothes! I have to work for any money I have. Swan Street is what I can afford! I can’t pay $70 for a shirt in Limegrove when I can get a shirt I like for $10 in Town.

People will see me walking around and stop and ask me, “Why aren’t you driving?” And I am, like, “Uhh… Because I don’t have a car?”

One day, a ZR pulled up and the conductor was speaking to me in a fake British accent. Even though I was wearing a St Michael’s School uniform and standing right outside the gate!

I have been in a relationship for a year-and-a-half now. But I am not comfortable to share her name.

I told my mum I didn’t think guys were my cup of tea. I kinda knew she would support me but she said, “Are you sure? Why not wait a bit and see?” I was young, 14. I know now she was trying to save me all the ridicule and hardships of the Caribbean LGBTQ community.

Parents should support their child [in gender identity matters], like pronouns and preferences, but not to the extent [of 14-year-olds contemplating gender reassignment surgery]. At age 18, they can decide for themselves who they are and what they want to do. They might change their mind, you never know. And then what’re they going to do?

When people ask, “What are you”, it’s so easy to say “gay”, instead of explaining all the other things that a person could be. It’s a hard subject to understand when you aren’t educated on it. I didn’t understand myself at first. What is “pansexual”? You’re attracted to pans?

Guys will say, “You don’t have a boyfriend? So I can give you my number?” And I’m, like, “No, ‘cause I have a girlfriend.” And they’re, like, “You don’t look gay!” What does “gay” look like? Do you want me to shave my head and get a bunch of tattoos?

TikTok was very helpful when I was 15, turning 16. It was called musical.ly back then and it wasn’t the big thing it is now. I made funny videos with relatable content. I woke up one morning and had, like, 2K followers. Three days later, I had 10K followers. Two days after that, I had 15K. Within a week I had 300K followers. And I was 15.

I would go to the mall and these little six-year-old kids, would ask to take a picture with me. I felt like a little celebrity but I kept my videos family-friendly.

I had half-a-million followers and was gaining thousands more every day when musical.ly changed to TikTok. As soon as it switched, 10K followers were removed all at once. That couldn’t be right. But it was happening to other creators. Everybody who was not in the USA was taken off the “For You” page and shadow-banned by the app. Charli D’Amelio, who has 100M followers now, had the same number of followers as me and she was posting once a month. I was posting twice every week.

I understood that it wouldn’t last forever but it kind of sucked to have my followers just [shadow-banned] so quickly. Recently, I took down a lot of posts because the app had started deleting them because it deemed them unpopular. Some of those videos had 3M likes! Which takes away the views you had like they never existed.

I had 3K followers on my YouTube account and thought about starting a YouTube channel but you need a proper camera and microphone. And when I asked my mom [if she’d buy them for me] she was, like, “You know, YouTubing is not actually a job! So no.”

TikTok gave me a lot of confidence in school. All the people who didn’t talk to me before came to me asking, “Can I be in one of your videos?” And I was, like, no. I was decent to them but I blanked them. I put people I knew were my true friends, Carli, Brooke, Braidynn, Elizabeth, Alyssa and Tivoni. They were with me throughout.

There’s bullying in the comments on TikTok. Like on weight or what people are wearing. They make you feel you don’t want to be on this platform any more. I debated deleting my account but kept it because I can show [prospective new colleagues] videos I’ve done.

I like alliteration so I’m going to say that, to me, a Trini is Three Fs: One: Food, really good food, best cuisine ever. Two: Feteing. Any Trini knows how to party and every Trini has rhythm. And then, three, Family. Even if you’re not blood-related, they’re there for you no matter what.

To me, Trinidad is home. When I go away and people ask where I’m from, I always say Trinidad. I’m very proud to be and want to be known as a Trini.


Twin ON TikTok

My name is Zoë Lowden-Blaber and I stayed on TikTok even though I agree with my twin sister, Skye, that it’s toxic.

At my peak, I had nearly 600K followers and 27M likes. But now it’s dropped to 17M.

I tell overseas people I live in Barbados but I’m from Trinidad. Then they tell me, “You don’t sound either Bajan or Trini.” I think it’s because of all the diverse accents I grew up with: Mum’s British; Dad’s Trini; grandparents are Guyanese! So it all kinda mixes in.

I’ve spent most of my 18 years in Barbados but I still feel Trinidadian because most of my family is there. My Trini accent usually comes back when I’m speaking to Trinis.

In Trinidad, we were staying with my dad’s mother. And, after my parents’ divorce, she didn’t really want us anymore. So we stayed with our Granny June. Then my mum met my stepdad Craig, so we moved to Barbados, where he lived.

It was odd going to St Winifred’s primary school because, in Trinidad primary school, everybody was friends. They didn’t have cliques. I would go over to these girls and they would just ignore me. I was seven!

My twin sister is Skye and my half-brother is Elliot Reid. My mom is Jules Raven-Reid.

I’ve had my dog Buddy since I was 13, when I started getting, like, really into life. He’s been my best friend since. Every time I was sad, I would hug him. He’s the one thing that’s always been there, Buddy. I love that dog more than life itself.

My mum had told us we could get anything we wanted if we passed the 11-Plus. My sister said, “A laptop!” Me, being the smarter twin, knew they’d have to invest in a laptop for secondary school! I got into the St Michael School, went to the Ark animal sanctuary and picked out Buddy.

Yes, people were mean in secondary school but you learned quickly to get over it. You still cared but you learned not to show it as much.

In form one, I hung out with girls I knew from primary school [until] I realised I didn’t really fit in with them. They were the very cliquey “white group”. I was, like, that’s kinda wrong. You’re supposed to make new friends at a new school.

As a kid, you don’t want to be tall. You want to be the cute little thing that can get picked up. But, from third form, I LOVED being tall. If somebody was upset with you in secondary school, they ALWAYS wanted to fight with you. And they’d come up to me and I was, like, “What are you going to do! You’re so small!”

At first, I got made fun of as the one white girl who would not hang out with the other white girls. Then, as we grew older, it was, “the white girl who wants to be black”. From my experience in Trinidad, nobody was called “the white girl” or “the black girl” or any girl. It was just how you were as a person.

I got in trouble because my friends at school liked to braid my hair. I was 14 and wasn’t really educated about cultural appropriation. I got in trouble with my teacher. She told me I was appropriating black culture. But they didn’t teach us that! And it was my black friends having fun.

My mum was always working and Craig was always flying so Skye and I quickly learned how to catch ZR vans and Transport Board buses home. The whole class got detention once and the teachers told us to message our parents to pick us up later. I asked to leave early because I had to catch the bus home. The teacher looked me up and down and said, “Zoë, do not lie! You don’t catch a bus home! Somebody going to come for you!” And then she let another girl, who was black, go early. Because she had to catch a bus home.

Walking around Bridgetown one Saturday, my teacher stopped and asked me why I was in Town. I said I was looking to buy a shirt. She said, “But why aren’t you shopping at Limegrove or Sheraton Mall?” But Town has really nice cheap clothes! I have to work for any money I have. Swan Street is what I can afford! I can’t pay $70 for a shirt in Limegrove when I can get a shirt I like for $10 in Town.

People will see me walking around and stop and ask me, “Why aren’t you driving?” And I am, like, “Uhh… Because I don’t have a car?”

One day, a ZR pulled up and the conductor was speaking to me in a fake British accent. Even though I was wearing a St Michael’s School uniform and standing right outside the gate!

I have been in a relationship for a year-and-a-half now. But I am not comfortable to share her name.

I told my mum I didn’t think guys were my cup of tea. I kinda knew she would support me but she said, “Are you sure? Why not wait a bit and see?” I was young, 14. I know now she was trying to save me all the ridicule and hardships of the Caribbean LGBTQ community.

Parents should support their child [in gender identity matters], like pronouns and preferences, but not to the extent [of 14-year-olds contemplating gender reassignment surgery]. At age 18, they can decide for themselves who they are and what they want to do. They might change their mind, you never know. And then what’re they going to do?

When people ask, “What are you”, it’s so easy to say “gay”, instead of explaining all the other things that a person could be. It’s a hard subject to understand when you aren’t educated on it. I didn’t understand myself at first. What is “pansexual”? You’re attracted to pans?

Guys will say, “You don’t have a boyfriend? So I can give you my number?” And I’m, like, “No, ‘cause I have a girlfriend.” And they’re, like, “You don’t look gay!” What does “gay” look like? Do you want me to shave my head and get a bunch of tattoos?

TikTok was very helpful when I was 15, turning 16. It was called musical.ly back then and it wasn’t the big thing it is now. I made funny videos with relatable content. I woke up one morning and had, like, 2K followers. Three days later, I had 10K followers. Two days after that, I had 15K. Within a week I had 300K followers. And I was 15.

I would go to the mall and these little six-year-old kids, would ask to take a picture with me. I felt like a little celebrity but I kept my videos family-friendly.

I had half-a-million followers and was gaining thousands more every day when musical.ly changed to TikTok. As soon as it switched, 10K followers were removed all at once. That couldn’t be right. But it was happening to other creators. Everybody who was not in the USA was taken off the “For You” page and shadow-banned by the app. Charli D’Amelio, who has 100M followers now, had the same number of followers as me and she was posting once a month. I was posting twice every week.

I understood that it wouldn’t last forever but it kind of sucked to have my followers just [shadow-banned] so quickly. Recently, I took down a lot of posts because the app had started deleting them because it deemed them unpopular. Some of those videos had 3M likes! Which takes away the views you had like they never existed.

I had 3K followers on my YouTube account and thought about starting a YouTube channel but you need a proper camera and microphone. And when I asked my mom [if she’d buy them for me] she was, like, “You know, YouTubing is not actually a job! So no.”

TikTok gave me a lot of confidence in school. All the people who didn’t talk to me before came to me asking, “Can I be in one of your videos?” And I was, like, no. I was decent to them but I blanked them. I put people I knew were my true friends, Carli, Brooke, Braidynn, Elizabeth, Alyssa and Tivoni. They were with me throughout.

There’s bullying in the comments on TikTok. Like on weight or what people are wearing. They make you feel you don’t want to be on this platform any more. I debated deleting my account but kept it because I can show [prospective new colleagues] videos I’ve done.

I like alliteration so I’m going to say that, to me, a Trini is Three Fs: One: Food, really good food, best cuisine ever. Two: Feteing. Any Trini knows how to party and every Trini has rhythm. And then, three, Family. Even if you’re not blood-related, they’re there for you no matter what.

To me, Trinidad is home. When I go away and people ask where I’m from, I always say Trinidad. I’m very proud to be and want to be known as a Trini.