An Aussie influencer has issued an apology after posting a video of her dressed up as the stingray that killed Steve Irwin for an Australian-themed costume party.
Sophia Begg, 19, divided the internet with her choice of costume, and has since deleted her TikTok that pictured her in the outfit she was wearing for “an Aussie dress-up party in a duo costume”.
“They’re going as Steve Irwin and I’m going as a stingray,” she noted in the comment section, after one viewer wrote, “Steve Erwin (sic) could never.”
The late and beloved “Crocodile Hunter” was killed on September 4, 2006, when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb at Queensland’s Batt Reef.
After saying that she loved Irwin and “would never want to offend his family/loved ones”, Begg apologised in a short text video on TikTok.
“Hi guys, I just wanted to jump on here to clear up some things,” she wrote.
“I love Steve Irwin and 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.”
Followers were divided about whether the 19-year-old’s costume was “fine and funny” or “disrespectful and offensive” to Irwin’s family.
“Oh lighten up. It’s been 20 years,” one commented.
“Not the people getting offended over a stingray,” a second added.
Another TikTok user said, “I think it’s funny and I loved Steve Irwin. Life’s too short to take seriously.”
“I feel like Steve would have laughed at this,” someone else added.
People in the comments noted that it would’ve been far less “disrespectful” had she “dressed as a crocodile”.
Her post sparked more debate after appearing on an influencer watchdog account @influencer.updates.au, “Disrespectful. She could have gone as a crocodile. This is just in poor taste,” one woman said.
“There’s dark humour and then there’s mocking how an Aussie icon died, leaving his wife and kids behind.”
“I’d just ask myself one question. Would I wear this in front of [Irwin’s kids] Bindi and Robert? No. That’s a huge no,” one person added.
One follower pointed out it was unlikely that Begg had “any ill intent… she should have chosen another costume”.
“I think it’s just in really bad taste. I think Steve Irwin would have been a bit before her time but for a lot of us ‘older’ Australians, he was an absolute icon and I think it would be upsetting for his wife and children.”
Image credit: TikTok
This article first appeared on Over60.