“Videos like this are why women never feel peace,” Doyle said in response to the train. “There’s already a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to pregnancy, especially for our generation. This is one of the many trends where people can comment very adversely on women’s bodies.”
Similarly, commenters on the most popular videos say they’ve deleted the “body positivity” trends.
“For a moment, we had this huge wave of body positivity compared to 2014. I thought we were on the right foot, but what I saw on my For You page promotes eating disorders,” Patrick said.
“It really brings you back to the 2012 Tumblr experience by commenting on people’s bodies in a cute and trendy way,” added Doyle.
Weight normative content on TikTok is more common than you think
A 2022 study on TikTok content suggests that the app’s voices and hashtags may contribute to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating by creating a space for false and weight-normative content. Despite TikTok’s diet culture and censorship policies for content promoting eating disorders, around 44% of videos tagged as #weight or #food contain weight loss and body transformation content. Additionally, less than 3% of videos on body-related hashtags contained weighted content, University of Vermont researchers reported in the journal PLOS One.
In the study, researchers analyzed 1,000 videos from 10 hashtags related to nutrition, food, and weight that had more than 1 billion views, and then took a closer look at the 100 most-watched videos from each hashtag.
Common trends include “What I Eat in a Day” videos that show weight conversions while including weight loss references. Intermittent fasting, high-protein, low-calorie and liquid diets were also included under the “nutrition” label.
So who is making this content? According to the analysis, they were mostly white female adolescents and young adults (64.6% of creators were female and 30.6% were male).
“When we have internal biases, the content only reinforces the biases we have and gives young people distorted views of what beauty is and what we should think about not just our bodies, but people,” Langer said. . In videos under body hashtags with nutritional advice, only 1.4% of the content was created by registered dietitians.
How do teens internalize body image content?
According to 2022 research in PLOS One, given TikTok’s widest user demographic ranges from 10 to 19 years old, people who create and engage with weight-related content may be at risk of having a negative body image or disordered eating behaviors.
“There’s a difference between ‘I have to take care of myself’ and ‘I have to do everything possible, including starving myself, not eating, limiting carbohydrates and exercising excessively,'” said nutritionist and wellness expert Rania Batayneh. ram. “When they see the people they admire change, it may even cause them to increase their own anxiety and fear about aging and what they will look like.”
Adolescent girls who witness negative body comparisons on social media may have an increase in body dissatisfaction and may strive to look a certain way, according to a 2022 study in the journal BMC Women’s Health, in which researchers interviewed 24 girls in-depth. Participants said they felt pressured to meet unrealistic expectations when viewing their fitness accounts on social media.
What’s next for weight and food content on TikTok?
In 2020, TikTok’s security policy manager published a statement announcing a change to the company’s advertising policies to promote a more positive environment when it comes to body size. The app banned ads for fasting apps, weight loss supplements, and information that could encourage harmful behavior. However, this still allows “weight management” products to reach users over the age of 18.
TikTok has also partnered with the National Eating Disorders Association to add a feature under videos that may contain unsafe content in 2021. As a result, trigger warning may appear on some videos. (BuzzFeed News reached out to TikTok about the song, and a spokesperson directed us to the song’s community guidelines. The app appeared to have removed some videos as of Monday.)
Additional in-app controls include reporting content, selecting “I’m not interested” to hide future content from the creator and voice when viewing content, adding comment filters that automatically hide offensive comments, and blocking certain accounts and voices.
Batayneh said that despite the trend towards greater body acceptance on social media, diet culture continues to harm viewers who may internalize messages about aging and body image.
“The simple concept of getting older is that women are afraid of gaining weight, getting wrinkles or looking different – the idea of keeping your youth is very powerful in our society,” she said. “If you admire someone’s appearance, that’s how we look at Hollywood and celebrities, and if that person changes and doesn’t fit in our memory, you might have to start thinking about yourself and how your body changes.”