Why is everyone on TikTok tucking their hair behind their ear? Here’s what the gesture really means

TikTok users are tucking their hair between their ears in slow motion.

This hilarious meme was spawned by Disney star Debby Ryan poking fun at her old role in Radio Rebel. Here’s what you need to know about the throwback trend. 

The actual face users have been making, though, is called “lightskin face,” and it’s been around for quite some time. Let’s unpack the Debby Ryan meme first.

What is the Debby Ryan meme on TikTok? 

In August 2020, Debby Ryan broke the internet — or TikTok at least — by poking fun at her past. The 27-year-old took a trip down memory lane as she reprised fashion looks from her iconic roles. 

“The president said to make a TikTok,” she wrote in the caption.

Ryan referenced a scene from her Radio Rebel days that fans had been talking about for months. In the video, she shyly and flirtatiously swooped her hair behind her ears and looked directly at the camera. It was perfectly cheesy and the kind of campy humor you’d expect from a Disney show. 

Now people are imitating the moment.

Here are some examples of the Debby Ryan meme on TikTok:


No sé cómo es el físico de macho alfa, pero gracias. Intento ser yo mismo 💖 @hellenfernandez13 #parati #foryou #fyp #foryoupage #debbyryanchallenge

♬ original sound – Dominick Borges

The user @mathiaswithh made use of his long locks when he sheepishly flirted with the camera. 

User @evacrhistie0 slowly morphed into Debby Ryan as she changed her posture, gait and expression to match hers.


JAJAJAJA NO PUEDO @pablocopello69 @juampicopello a quien le salió mejor😏 || #debbyryan #debbyryanchallenge #challenge #reto

♬ original sound – Emily🏳️‍🌈

The whole family got involved a the dinner table in @cande.copello’s hilarious video.

What is lightskin face?

If you see someone raising their eyebrows, squinting and biting their lip at the camera, that’s lightskin face. Sometimes it involves rubbing your chin as well.

On TikTok, users have been making the face in all sorts of videos, but notably do it to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust.”


My face really said 🥴 It went to no direction lol @melanie.tms @joshbeauchamp #anotheronebitesthedust #fy

♬ Another One Bites the Dust – Tendencia

The face has been around for years, though. TikToker Khalil Greene said in a video that he remembers the trend from middle school.

He said the term “lightskin face” pokes fun at the stereotypes that lighter skinned Black men tried to be “pretty boys” and acted conceited.

This is another example of a so-called Gen Z trend that actually has roots in Black culture and often fails to credit it as such.

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