Performative Activism

What does performative activism look like?

Activism performed to gain social standing

Performative activism is when a person participates in an activist movement not because they believe in the cause but because they want to be famous. The phrase became popular in 2020 during the George Floyd protests when celebrities were accused of joining in to gain fans rather than out of genuine commitment.

Fake activism often occurs online, especially on social sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. Online, performative activists post messages saying they support a cause but do nothing else to actually support it (such as donating money or protesting IRL). This faux activism is a theatrical act performed to appear "woke" to followers or the general public.

Most performative activists are deliberately deceiving the public to gain social capital. However, some celebrities accused of performative activism may sincerely care about the cause, but the way they communicate their beliefs makes their conviction appear disingenuous.

What are some examples of performative activism?

One example of performative activism is when Emma Watson posted multiple black squares to her Instagram account in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM), taking time to ensure her "activism" maintained her account's aesthetic. Another example is when celebrities post photos of themselves protesting, which are actually just coordinated photo ops.

Slang similar to performative activism

Performative activism is similar to slacktivism, which is a combination of "slacker" and "activism" that describes people who try to be activists but don't want to put forth much effort. Performative activists may also be called "posers," which are people that say they live their life one way while not actually living that way at all.


All these influencers are showing their true colors with their performative activism.
Yeah, I saw one person selling a BLM shirt with her brand on it.
Tweet calling out performative activism on Instagram

Tweet calling out performative activism on Instagram

Related Slang


Updated December 9, 2021

Performative activism definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Performative activism" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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