An Australian influencer has apologised after facing a massive backlash to a video she posted to TikTok, in which she dressed up as the stringray that killed Steve Irwin.
Sophia Begg shared in the since-removed video that she had been invited to an “Aussie dress-up party in a duo costume” and was going to wear the stringray onesie.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Influencer slammed for Steve Irwin costume.
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“They’re going as Steve Irwin and I’m going as a stingray,” the 19-year-old explained in the video caption.
Steve Irwin was killed in Queensland on September 4, 2006, when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb whilst filming a program on Australia’s most deadly creatures.
Begg’s video, later shared on the Influencer Updates Australia Instagram page, shows Begg posing in the outfit, doing a 360-degree circle to show it from all angles before walking towards the camera.
But if Begg thought the idea was funny, most of her followers on TikTok weren’t laughing.
“They’re literally joking about a devastating death?” one TikTok user wrote beneath the video, per Pedestrian.TV.
“You could go as literally anything else?” added another.
“You’re so insensitive. Just because you have a massive following doesn’t mean you can get away with this s***.”
Begg has more than 101,000 followers on TikTok.
Others made their thoughts known when the video was reposted on Influencer Updates Australia.
“Making a joke of someone’s cause of death is never funny, I don’t get how adults don’t grasp this,” one person fumed.
“I’d just ask myself one question. Would I wear this in front of Bindi or Robert? No. That’s a huge no.”
“Not amusing in the slightest,” wrote another.
“Disrespectful,” added a third.
“She could have gone as a crocodile.
“This is just in poor taste.
“There’s dark humour and then there’s mocking how an Aussie icon died, leaving his wife and kids behind.”
The backlash prompted an apology from Begg in a follow-up TikTok post.
“Hi guys, I just wanted to jump on her to clear up some things,” she wrote in a post on Thursday.
“I love Steve Irwin and I would never want to cause disrespect to his family or legacy.
“He is an iconic Aussie and no offence was meant by my costume.
“I have thought about and reflected on my costume, and I will not be wearing it, and apologise wholeheartedly to anyone who was offended by it, that was definitely not my intention.
“I apologise sincerely.”
While some of Begg’s followers accepted her apology, others were still fuming.
“Of course people are going to be offended,” one person wrote.
“Would you dress up as a gun with someone who was shot dead?
“Glad you’ve apologised.”
Others, however, said that people needed to “grow up” and get a “sense of humour”.
“No way people were offended by that, it’s just a costume,” one follower wrote.
“Anyone who was offended needs to grow up,” another wrote.
“People are so sensitive,” said a third.
But others were enraged by the followers who thought critics of the original video were over-reacting.
“If you respect his legacy, then why not go as a crocodile?” asked one follower.
“(You) literally chose the animal that caused his death.”
“How does everyone think this is okay?” wondered another.
“It’s poking fun at him.
“Imagine how his kids would feel if they saw that.”
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