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The Problem with Health and Fitness on TikTok

TRIGGER WARNING This article contains topics that may be harmful to some readers. (eating habits, body image, weight loss)

Art by Jillian Mae Machacon

TikTok’s for you page is a neverending stream of content, using an algorithm that personalizes content based on posts you’ve interacted with. This means that if you tend to like dance videos, TIkTok will personalize your feed so those videos frequent your page more often. However, it seems that despite this algorithm, certain videos persist and circulate through every user’s for you page. These consist of hourglass-shaped women, shirtless teen boys, workout routines, and “what I eat in a day” videos.

There is a time and a place for content that encourages viewers to transform their body or “get fit.” However, an app popularized by teens is not the place. The fitness side of tiktok promotes the mindset that sculpting a part of your body leaves you confident and desirable. What the app fails to promote is that reaching this mindset is possible without a physical change. You are capable of loving your body regardless of its current state. The impact of constantly viewing this kind of content hinders the process of developing self-love, which is especially dangerous considering some users are vulnerable to developing harmful habits.

While it seems we were always conscious of beauty standards through VIctoria’s Secret fashion shows and Instagram models who dedicate their lives to sculpting their body, there is something harmful in seeing teens your age possess every desirable beauty feature. Suddenly having that “perfect” body seems attainable because a 15-year-old high school girl achieved “results.” This separation of fantasy and reality can push teens to take drastic measures in order to see the same results.

Every few days a new trend emerges on TikTok, using a recycled version of a popular sound. Recently the “we get it from my momma trend” appeared, in which individuals lip-synced the song “Melanin,” by Secrett, a song made with the intention of uplifting people of darker skin tones. The lyric in question goes, “We get it from my momma, we get it from my momma, we get it from my momma, yeah yeah, ha-ha, I got melanin.” Recently, the lyrics were modified. Users swap out the word “melanin” for different body parts. Some examples are, big lips, a big butt, a fast metabolism, long legs. Clearly, the phenomenon occurring in which users go viral for a physical feature is problematic. Regardless of whether they receive praise or hate, the state of one's physical being should not be debated in the comments like a painting on the wall. The objectification of teens on one of the largest platforms is deeply concerning. Trend after trend, the impact grows.

The neverending stream of new videos makes TikTok an addicting app. Similar to Instagram’s explore page, it feels like you’ve been sucked into a realm of limitless content. However, it’s crucial to recognize that drowning in content that makes you insecure will have an impact on your wellbeing. Take a break! Set a time limit! Know that your body is normal and beautiful. Start a movement! Break this cycle of suffocating beauty standards, and know that you are not alone and that thousands of teens stand by you.

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