Fat Shaming and TikTok

Even before the pandemic began, it’s safe to say Tik Tok has taken over many millennial lives. As a form of cheap, 60-second entertainment, it’s just enough to please our ever-shortening attention spans and give us a quick giggle in-between zoom meetings or at bedtime.

 Guilty as charged, I, too, have an obsession with Tik Tok. Countless hours of scrolling and other forms of engagement with this app have been both rewarding and detrimental to my mental health. While a wonderful distraction from the chaos that 2020 as a whole has entailed, it still has its side effects. One side effect, in particular, stood out to me: Fat shaming. 

One day I was scrolling through my feed when I came across a video of a girl dancing to the song “Big Girl (You are Beautiful)” by MIKA. This song promotes body positivity and being confident in your skin no matter what size you are. With the positive messages that song promotes, I was shocked when I saw a girl using this song to poke fun at members of the plus-size community.

 In the video, the girl was dancing to the song with a filter that added 50 pounds to her body. She then removed the filter and described feeling relieved she didn’t look that big in real life. 

Being a plus-size girl myself, I couldn’t help but feel insecure. These girls were so happy to not look like me and so many other curvy women. Making plus-size people the butt of the joke is the type of toxic behavior that leads to eating disorders and body image issues. 

With Tik Tok’s massive presence among young, impressionable teenagers, the platform should be promoting loving every body type, no matter the shape or size. Instead, the app’s moderators have repeatedly taken down the plus-size creator’s contents. 

Celebrities, like Lizzo, have called out Tik Tok for removing videos of them dancing, particularly in swimsuits. Following the deletion of a video of her dancing, Lizzo used her platform to call out TikTok’s double standards. In the video she comments, “Tiktok keeps taking down my videos with me in my bathing suits but allows other videos with girls in bathing suits.” 

According to a Slate article, TikTok has specially programmed algorithms to flag down and filter out any content “vulnerable to cyberbullying.” Shockingly, TikTok has admitted to muting plus size and special needs users under this category.

Amy Flak DWith all of this being said, plus-sized users have combatted the negativity and will continue to rise above the toxic societal and cyber norms. Plus-size users have taken back the song by MIKO using it as a fat girl anthem, myself included. We refuse to let anyone shame us for our weight and will continue to give ourselves praise. 

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and we have to acknowledge that if we ever want to make a difference. We are fortunate to have the world in our pockets and use our platforms to better the world and one another.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Photos: Her Campus Media