We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.
It’s Friday. Another saga has unfolded on TikTok.
This time, it involves influencer and tuition teacher Brooke Lim, 19.
Better known as sugaresque, she’s been accused of plagiarising an essay titled “On being afraid of eating”.
The essay was supposedly about her personal experience of battling an eating disorder from the age of 14 to 18, and was published on her blog, Grayscale Copy, which is now password-locked.
In a series of TikTok videos and an “evidence document” on Google Docs, it was alleged that Brooke plagiarised close to half the essay from two books – Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Empty: A Memoir by Susan Burton.
‼️ PAUSE TO READ ‼️ i cant believe she plagiarised so much from ONE book alone and THERES ACTUALLY EVEN MORE from another book too (haven’t had the time to compile) #sugaresque #plagiarism #fyp #fypシ #fypsg #sgtiktok #sg #singapore #bombasticsideeye #criminaloffensivesideeye #accountability #controversy #blowthisup #exposed #takeresponsibility
Series of events
According to Brooke’s accusers, they had sent a tellonym (an anonymous messaging app) message upon reading the essay to ask “why parts of her supposedly ‘personal experience’ are closely identical to certain books”.
Here’s a sampling of sections they identified to be similar:
Brooke allegedly did not reply to the tellonym, but edited her essay to remove the problematic parts.
Later, she added a note admitting to using plagiarised material, but said that it had happened when she was 14. She later used the words she had plagiarised, but assumed it was “entirely original”.
According to the “evidence document”, Brooke eventually password locked her blog on Apr. 20 and the essay is no longer accessible.
“Necessary for her to take responsibility”
It is not clear who is behind the document and TikTok account, but the writers acknowledge that Brooke indeed suffered from an eating disorder and shared that they “hope her recovery journey goes well”.
However, they have called the essay “misleading” and “not representative of her (Brooke’s) own experience”.
The writers also say it is “necessary for her to take responsibility”, calling her actions “disrespectful” to those with eating disorders, the original writers, her followers, as well as herself.
We reached out to Brooke for her response to the allegations, and this is what she had to say:
“I apologise for the plagiarism in a segment of my essay… I acknowledge that my actions were wrong, and I’m deeply ashamed of what I’ve done.
The plagiarised segments were of a descriptive, young-adult nature in the front of the essay, and I should have instead given due credit and explained that these were observations that rang true for me.”
She added that she took “full responsibility” and had “no excuses to make”.
However, she emphasised that she had given references and credit quotes and statements that were not her own.
“I understand that any incident of plagiarism is a serious offence that cannot be taken lightly, and it has ruined the integrity of the essay.”
Brooke said that she was appreciative of those who have “held [her] accountable”.
Besides removing the essay to “make things right,” Brooke added that she is also open to suggestions on how to rectify the situation.
If reading this has hit you with a sense of déjà vu, that’s because Brooke was also implicated in a copying saga just last year.
The difference, however, is that a (now-deleted) video had accused another influencer, Denise Soong, of copying Brooke.
The allegations were that:
- Denise had taken her students to the cinema as a post-exam treat, like what Brooke had done with her students before their exams.
- The logo for Denise’s tuition agency, Puzzles and Co, was said to be similar to Brooke’s agency, Classicle Club.
- Both agencies had a similar website copy.
It is not clear who had targeted Denise, but (unverified) rumours indicated that it was Brooke. This was never confirmed with hard evidence, however.
Denise then responded via a TikTok video, in which she clarified that the movie outing was a concept done by many tutors, and that her logo was adapted from a pre-provided template on the online designing app, Canva.
♬ original sound – Denise Soong Ee Lyn – Denise Soong Ee Lyn
However, Denise admitted that the website wording was indeed similar, and explained that she had outsourced the work of managing her tuition centres’s communication channels to an intern.
The intern had produced work that was “heavily inspired” by Classicle Club, and she had signed off on these unknowingly.
Nevertheless, she acknowledged that it was a “lapse in due diligence” on her part.
Image via sugaresqueessay/TikTok and Brooke Lim’s Instagram.
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