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Why TikTok’s #LeggingLegs Trend is a Cause for Concern

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

TikTok can be an uplifting, motivating place, from people sharing their outfits, telling their stories, and creating a platform to express themselves. Nevertheless, the well-known social media platform has drawbacks, such as the tendency to develop trends and pressure people’s behaviours and appearances. 

The newest body-shaming craze to go viral on TikTok is the thigh gap fad, which showcases the idealised legs for a popular women’s apparel item: leggings. Due to the leggings trend’s emphasis on leg length and size, many women with slim builds have been seen on camera showcasing their slender legs—or, as the public has been taught, the “ideal” legs for leggings. Although the women filming themselves may find this empowering, such a trend could be harmful to women.

These days, leggings are a classic, cosy look that goes well with any ensemble. They have become a go-to item for many ladies, whether worn with a sweater to lounge around the house or with a blazer and New Balance trainers for brunch. That being said, leggings are typically associated with working out and going to the gym, and the progressive rise in female involvement in sports and wellness has given rise to TikTok coverage. In December 2023, the leggings trend gained popularity when women posted pictures of their thigh gaps in yoga pants with the hashtag #legginglegs in the caption. Although TikTok banned the hashtag a month later, the trend’s effects are still quite harmful.

Unquestionably, this movement has significantly impacted expectations and norms for female bodies. Before, we were in a Kardashian norm that emphasised curviness. We are arguably moving towards a clean girl aesthetic that also aligns with slenderness, healthy food, regular exercise, and, most crucially, skinniness. While it’s true that eating right and exercising can have significant effects, others contend that the demands this places on our bodies are unattainable and impractical for a large number of people. Although everyone has a unique metabolism, bone structure, and genetic makeup, the current trend has not considered these aspects. The present “ideal” body shape is being created by this tendency, which may adversely affect people’s self-esteem and body image.

The emphasis on tight-fitting clothing likely contributes to unrealistic beauty standards and body comparison, as this style only aligns with a particular physique. I would argue that we are now entering an era of tight-fitted clothing, such as sleeve-tight tops, yoga pants and leggings. While some women may find this trend appealing, others may not feel confident enough, especially in light of its popularity on TikTok, which could make them feel left out for adopting this look. Even if diversity and inclusivity were starting to be recognised and embraced, this hashtag seems to have reversed some of our society’s advancements.

The fact that teens are the main target audience on TikTok is the most concerning aspect of this trend. Adolescence is a vulnerable yet crucial time in our adult development, as most of us are aware. Teenagers are also searching for role models and potential aspirations. As adolescents navigate their autonomy, create identities, and build connections, many of them may seek guidance on social media for appropriate behaviour and appearance. Young people can benefit from social media, but there are drawbacks as well.

Several studies have shown that the use of social media in children and teenagers significantly coincides with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and eating disorder behaviours. As #legginglegs grows, so do teenagers’ ideas about the ideal physique. The ideal physique of skinnier and more slender bodies only presents one type of young girl or boy’s body. It should go without saying that anyone using social media should be more cautious about starting such a trend. 

Overall, this craze is one such trend that has gained popularity on TikTok, especially among teenagers, and its effects can be far-reaching. It is crucial for social media users to be aware of the messages they are promoting and to encourage diversity and inclusivity rather than perpetuating harmful beauty standards. Ultimately, we need to foster a culture of body positivity and self-love that embraces all body types and encourages people to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. We need to continue with the ethos: all bodies are perfect and are especially ideal for any clothing!

Kate Hayhurst

Nottingham '24

Kate is the Head of Reviews at the Nottingham Her Campus, where she is the first point of contact for anyone seeking help writing reviews and collaborates with outside projects and companies for reviews. Her interests are in lifestyle and entertainment. She is currently a final-year student at the University of Nottingham. In her free time, she plays netball, leads a charity combating Period Poverty, engages with creativity and always drinks iced coffee.