Tube Girl: Viral TikTok star hit with backlash over 'delulu is the solulu' T-shirts for Gaza

Sabrina Bahsoon deletes TikTok posts responding to criticism of her partnership with the Choose Love UK refugee charity.

Sabrina Bahsoon and the 'delulu is the solulu' t-shirt
Sabrina Bahsoon's deleted video announcing the collaboration with Choose Love and the 'delulu is the solulu' t-shirt (Credit: Sabrina Bahsoon TikTok / Everpress)

The viral TikTok star ‘Tube Girl’ - aka Londoner Sabrina Bahsoon - has deleted a series of posts responding to criticism amid a backlash over her collaboration with a refugee charity.

Bahsoon, 23, has amassed 800,000 followers in four months on TikTok after videos of her lip-synching on the London Tube went viral.

Her videos, which feature Bahsoon dancing on the underground while filming herself singing along to pop songs, struck a chord with women who found them confidence-inspiring.

However, over the weekend, Bahsoon was hit with a TikTok backlash following the announcement of a partnership with UK refugee charity Choose Love.

What happened?

On Friday, Bahsoon posted a video in which she announced a collaboration to raise funds for people affected by the Gaza and Israel conflict.

She said: "I'm heartbroken by the loss of civilian lives, many of which are children during this conflict. As a person who is brand new to having influence, it has taken me some time to figure out how I can use the platform you gave me to make a positive impact."

She said she was supporting Choose Love for raising funds for urgent aid for the “2 million plus” people trapped inside Gaza and the displaced communities in southern Israel.

Screenshot of Sabrina Bahsoon, 'Tube Girl', on the London underground with the caption
Sabrina Bahsoon, 'Tube Girl', on the London underground. (Credit: Sabrina Bahsoon / TikTok)

The announcement was not universally welcomed by her followers with some of the negative responses appearing to stem from Bahsoon making a public statement about the conflict at all, given her platform is based on unrelated viral videos.

Many pointed to the fact Bahsoon didn’t say “Palestine” in the original post as well as the T-shirt itself, which referenced the unrelated TikTok trend “delulu is the solulu”.

She also published her video - in which she called on her followers to buy T-shirts to raise money for the cause - the night before Black Friday, despite a rallying call by many pro-Palestinians calling for a boycott for the same day against stores perceived to be sympathetic to Israel.

As the Tube Girl backlash went viral, one video criticising her amassed 1.2 million views; in it, the TikTok user accused Bahsoon of “selling out” to Israel.

Bahsoon initially posted a defence of her partnership but has since deleted the videos, as well as the initial video promoting her partnership with Choose Love.

In a screenshot of a now-deleted video responding to the backlash, Bahsoon highlighted three Palestinian charities she says would have received some of the money raised.

And while the Everpress website is still selling the £28 “delulu is the solulu” T-shirt she created with the charity, there is otherwise no trace of the collaboration on her social media profiles.

Bahsoon’s representative declined to comment when approached by Yahoo.

A Choose Love Spokesperson said it is working with 11 organisations supplying 'critical medical services, tackling food insecurity and providing urgent water and sanitation needs'.

Sabrina Bahsoon poses for photographers upon arrival at the World premiere of the film 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 in London. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Sabrina Bahsoon at the premiere of 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' earlier this month. (AP)

In a statement to Yahoo News, Choose Love said: "Despite significant challenges at the Rafah Crossing, limited aid has arrived in Palestine through our incredible partners and a huge part of the work that we are doing is ensuring partners are prepared and aid is stocked at the border, to build capacity for when further aid is able to get through.

"As always, we work with community frontline organisations who are experts in understanding local needs and are best placed to provide urgently needed support. We are beyond heartbroken to see the unimaginable level of suffering, and are working our hardest to ensure that life-saving aid can get to those who desperately need it."

Who is TubeGirl?

It was very different for Bahsoon last week, when she was riding the crest of a wave as her unusual video style was parodied on Saturday Night Live in the US by Hollywood megastar Jason Momoa and Canadian singer Tate McRae.

Speaking to Yahoo News last week - before the backlash - Bassoon said she found Momoa’s video the most surprising of all the celebrity takes on her video.

“They zoomed out to Tate McRae holding the fan, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is them doing my trend?’ and I could not believe it. I was just screaming.”

Jason Momoa and Tate Mcrae on SNL (Credit: SNL / TikTok)
Jason Momoa and Tate Mcrae on SNL (Credit: SNL / TikTok)

Bahsoon, who was born and raised in Malaysia and graduated this summer with a law degree from Durham University, initially started posting on TikTok about her latest thrift store finds.

But it was her videos as Tube Girl that built her a following - she’s now an official Creator on TikTok with around 800k followers with her most viral video racking up 28 million views.

The first video to go viral was posted in August to Nicki Minaj’s ‘Where Them Girls At’, but the trend didn’t take off until she used Tate McRae’s ‘Greedy’. Bahsoon credits the vibe of the song with its success.

She told Yahoo: “So many people ask me this, but I think the best way to say is: “It’s like the ones that make you want to catwalk down the Tube or make you disassociate from your reality because you're in your own mind.”

Bahsoon's distinctive style uses wind blowing through the Tube carriage and whipping her hair for dramatic effect and couples it with extensive use of the zoom of her phone's camera on x0.5 to the pace of the song.

Her rise was so sudden even her dad had no clue about her TikTok following until she did an interview with the BBC.

She said her dad, who is from Sierra Leone and Lebanon, had wanted her to move back to Malaysia, but she convinced him to ‘let her cook’. The next day, he sent her the BBC article and said: “What’s tube girl?”

“He always taught us that message. She said: “My dad and my mom were always so ensuring that all of us were brought up as very strong, independent women.” Shortly after that conversation, her dad flew over to the UK to make sure everything was alright. Bahsoon said: “He became like Kris Jenner overnight. So he's super, super, happy with everything,” she added.