The Rise of TikTok and the Unrealistic Beauty Standard

It’s important to me to try starting my day out on the right foot. My morning routine begins with that iPhone alarm (you know the one) and a quick scramble around my bed to shut off the source of the devilish noise. Ripping my phone out of its charger, I click on the blue “Twitter” icon and squint my way through tweets and... TikToks overwhelm me. I switch to Instagram for hopes of better content. Cute outfit, I think to myself as I double tap a picture of my friend’s “recent”. Scrolling to the next post, I’m met with the same disappointment I encountered on Twitter: another TikTok. It was as if the universe was telling me to download the app, and I wasn’t willing to take my chances against the universe as my finger gravitated towards the App Store icon. 


It was this that began my newfound love for the app. The “For You” page catered to all my animal-content needs, vine references, and fashion interests. The endless supply of videos could fry my brain and eyes for hours on end and I would not object. However, it wasn’t until I mastered the workings of the app that I realized the toxicity hidden behind it, specifically towards body image. Hidden between the lines of these entertaining and creative works were subliminal messages glorifying eating disorders and workout videos promising to “spot reduce fat”. 


A recent trend, “What I Eat in a Day” caught my eye when I noticed creators posting alarmingly small meal routines and crediting how they looked to what they ate. Videos like this can encourage poor eating habits in viewers and push them into working towards a body they can never achieve, simply because it is unrealistic. Thousands of comments on these videos praise the creator and many viewers comment asking if these eating habits are the ticket to their ideal body image. What influencers like these won’t tell you is that you can eat properly and see positive results in your body no matter what goal you set, whether to tone, gain weight, lose weight, or build more muscle. 


Fitness influencers have used TikTok to promote their habits with intros such as “Are you trying to reduce fat between your legs? Here’s ten exercises that can help!”. The comments will be filled with replies saying “trying this tonight!”, by viewers who are being misinformed. The reality of this is that you can’t spot reduce fat on your body if you intend to lose weight. Most of the exercises promoted in these videos are generally muscle building exercises, since cardio exercises seem to get a more negative appeal from the audience. These exercises are good for you, they’re just being promoted for the wrong reasons. The false promises promoted by the influencers plant the wrong mindset in viewers that they have to look a certain way, or if they follow what the influencer is doing, they’ll end up looking like them too. 


A friend once told me: “You can eat the same meals, drink the same amount of water, and burn the same number of calories as someone else, but you both will still look different at the end of the day.” Our bodies differ not only because of diet or exercise, but even because of income, genetics, metabolism, sex, and age. It’s these realistic standards that are hidden behind misleading creators on TikTok because of the way their bodies are idolized to an innocent audience. When you prey on that innocence with diet culture and bad fitness advice, you get a generation of young adults who are insecure in their bodies because they’ve been told it’s not what they should look like. It’s incredibly important to be cautious of the fitness media you are consuming and to do your research before making any drastic changes. Videos on fitness TikTok should not make you feel as if you have to change to be beautiful. Although easier said than done, learning to love your body is the first step in pushing yourself away from body insecurity, and towards self love. I’ll start you off by letting you know, reader, that I love you and your body. Good luck!