TIkTok’s latest overnight sensation is Bella Poarch, a social media influencer known for her subtle lip-syncing videos — and a number of controversies.
Though she only joined the app in April 2020, she has been averaging nearly 1 million new followers every day, according to YouTuber Def Noodles, who tracks influencer trends. As of press time, she has 30 million followers.
Here’s what we know so far about the TikToker, from her path to social media fame to her many controversies.
Bella Poarch has the most-liked video on TikTok.
On August 17, Poarch shared a simple video of herself lip-syncing to “M to the B” by MIllie B, then bobbing her head and crossing her eyes to the beat. Less than a month later, it became the most-liked video on TikTok with a whopping 36.5 million likes and 145.3 million views.
She faced backlash after the post caught fire. The post has more than 1 million comments, and it appears the vast majority of posts repeat the same sentiment: “Why does this have so many likes?”
In her first-ever TikTok video, which she posted April 10, she pretends to play a video game as the audio of someone issuing a fiery insult plays over the footage. This post, like so many of her others, has been called “low effort.”
Even as she’s faced criticism for being “famous for no reason,” Poarch has continued to gain popularity. After her massive video went viral, she shifted her content strategy to focus almost entirely on lip-syncing videos filmed with a face-tracking filter.
How old is Bella Poarch? No one seems to know.
According to PopBuzz, Poarch was born in the Philippines on February 8, 2001, which would make her 19 years old. Famous Birthdays, however, states that Poarch was born on the same day in 1997, which would make her 23.
So which one is right? Good question.
On September 10, Poarch tweeted about appearing on the Famous Birthdays website, a sign for many TikTok stars that they’ve made it. At that time, her age was listed as 19. She didn’t correct it, so many people assumed that was her confirmation of her real age.
Poarch also claimed to have served in the U.S. Navy. A post on her Facebook page says she was stationed in Japan in 2017, but if her real age is truly 19, that would have made her 16 at the time. To serve in the U.S. Navy, you must be at least 17 years old.
It’s likely that Poarch is older than 19, but she has never formally confirmed her age, so that mystery is yet to be solved.
There are questions about the authenticity of Bella Poarch’s social media presence and real name.
Though Poarch is quickly becoming one of the most popular TikTok users, most of her internet presence is fairly recent.
Though her Instagram account and Facebook account existed before 2017, the URL for her Facebook account ends in “TaylorNariee,” which is not the name she uses. Google search results for “Taylor Narie” and “Narie Taylor” do not yield any information about anyone who looks like Poarch.
In an Instagram post from 2018 in which Poarch is in uniform, the name on her shirt appears to be “Taylor,” further suggesting Poarch may not be her real last name.
It’s possible Poarch decided to reinvent herself and go by a different name on social media, and of course, there’s nothing wrong with that — just ask Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga) and Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi B). We just don’t know for sure what that name might be.
The TikTok star has been accused of making a racist statement in a Facebook post.
In the same Facebook post in which she claimed she was in the Navy in 2017, Poarch called her friend, who is a person of color, Harambe — the name of a gorilla who was shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Poarch responded to the backlash in another Facebook post but did not apologize.
“Y’all really trying to cancel me for calling my friend Harambe. That was his nickname back when we were stationed in Japan!” she wrote.
She doubled down on her statement in a tweet later that day.
Bella Poarch has an extremely offensive “rising sun” tattoo.
Poarch has a tattoo of the Japanese “rising sun” flag, a red ball with 16 red rays that was Imperial Japan’s war flag from 1870 until the end of World War II, on her arm.
To many, particularly residents of countries who fell victim to the atrocities of Japan’s imperialist past, the symbol is considered a hateful reminder of the human rights abuses during that painful time. Some even compare it to the Nazi swastika.
Poarch responded to countless comments informing her that her tattoo is considered a hate symbol with a TikTok video.
“I’m very sorry if my tattoo offends you. I love Korea. Please forgive me,” she wrote in her post.
After other users left comments saying “this is not an apology” and “you’re kidding” on her post, Poarch took to Twitter to apologize.
I apologize to Koreans because 6 months ago I got a tattoo of the red sun with 16 rays. At that time, I didn’t know the history. But when I found out, I immediately had it covered and scheduled for removal. I am ashamed of myself for not doing my research. I sincerely apologize.— Bella Poarch (@bellapoarch) September 6, 2020
“I apologize to Koreans because 6 months ago I got a tattoo of the red sun with 16 rays. At that time, I didn’t know the history,” she wrote. “But when I found out, I immediately had it covered and scheduled for removal. I am ashamed of myself for not doing my research. I sincerely apologize.”
To many, that apology is still not enough.
Bella Poarch has been linked to content marketing company BAS.media.
Poarch’s email address on her TikTok profile is firstname.lastname@example.org, and has been since before she skyrocketed to fame with her most viral video.
According to a Business Insider article about the top power players using TikTok to influence the music industry, BAS.media is “a group of viral-content marketers that has an exclusive partnership with Columbia Records to promote artists and tracks on TikTok and other social media platforms.”
Def Noodles pointed out that Poarch has been sharing a number of lip-syncing videos, especially since her “M to the B” video took off. He floated the possibility that Poarch may be employed by BAS.media to allegedly promote music from Columbia Records.
Of course, we aren’t saying that Poarch is a music industry plant on TikTok who does not use her real name or age — just that it’s undeniable she’s racked up a surprising number of mysteries and controversies for a user who just joined TikTok in April.
Poarch did not respond to In The Know’s request for comment on this story, but we hope these controversies are addressed and the mysteries are unraveled soon.
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