TikTok 'Beauty' Trends: Why They’re Problematic

The impact that TikTok has had on today’s youth is undeniably massive. Especially regarding the beauty industry, it has become a major marketing ploy and the ideal location to promote products. Although it has been a hotspot to share helpful beauty tips and tricks, single-handedly leading many recommended items to sell out in stores, there is an eerily much darker side to this “beauty” side of TikTok. 

You see it every day: you log on, and there seems to be some new sort of ‘trend’ that everyone is trying. The catch? Almost every one of these ‘trends’ has to do with the physical appearance and facial features of young people, specifically young girls. From the side profile check, the filter that tells you whether or not “you have big lips or no lips,” the hourglass figure trend and the currently trending “inverted filter” bandwagon where it tests how symmetrical your face is. All of these trends are inherently problematic for many reasons, but the main issue I have with this is, who is even coming up with these so-called “trends'' that literally perpetuate Eurocentric beauty standards and promote body checking? 

tik tok app on black iphone Photo by Solen Feyissa from Unsplash

There have been countless times when I’ve been scrolling through TikTok and come across a video of a young girl literally sobbing after participating in these trends because she was dissatisfied with the result. Not to mention, the comments sections of these videos tend to be hotspots for ruthless bullying and body shaming. From all of these trends, it seems as if the app is coming up with new things every day to make young girls insecure about, making “trends” for things that one wouldn't even normally consider, such as “back profiles,” hip dips and even the status of their labia, regarding whether one is an “innie” or an “outie.” 

It may all seem very lighthearted and superficial from the surface level, but when young, impressionable girls are constantly thrown at these new trends basically forcing them to prove that every single part of their body is “acceptable” and fits the beauty standard, it can create a very toxic online atmosphere and lead to deeper-rooted issues regarding self-esteem, mental health and even body dysmorphia. 

The question then is if TikTok is saturated with children as young as eight-years-old, is this app even suitable for said children to be on? Just the fact that these trends encourage young women and children to put their bodies under scrutiny for a trend or the chance to go viral is an issue as these trends almost always result in some sort of fat-shaming and the perpetuation of racist and Eurocentric beauty standards. 

The fact is that TikTok literally uses a highly sophisticated beauty algorithm that gives each face a numeral ranking of attractiveness. Videos with more algorithmically attractive faces get promoted more and appear on more people’s “for you page” because when TikTok detects beauty, it also recognizes that said video has a higher chance of going viral and getting more interaction. That being said, the algorithm is literally based on Eurocentric beauty standards. The problem with this: the app is preying on our insecurities and turning natural human differences, whether due to age, race or ethnicity and turning them into so-called “imperfections.” 

Are all of these trends that appear out of nowhere a product of the app trying to scope out the highest possible amount of interaction possible, or is it simply innocent people coming up with these trends? Regardless, next time you scroll on TikTok, remember to not let the app fool you: you are human and there is nothing wrong with your face or body. Don’t allow artificial intelligence to determine your worth. Stay confident and take these videos with a grain of salt. 

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