By Lindsay Der
TW: mentions of eating disorders and body checking
“Guess I’m not eating today,” reads thousands of comments on a thin girl’s body checking video. Automatically comparing themselves to the unrealistic image of the poster, users are quick to comment, feeling ashamed of their own bodies. Self-deprecating comments that promote unhealthy dieting habits can be equally as harmful as the video itself.
A new manifestation of the trends that promoted eating disorders plaguing Tumblr in the early 2010s has returned, this time featuring TikTok trends of young girls showing off their stomachs, thighs and waists. Highly popular and dangerous, the #hipwalkchallenge showed users’ faces before panning down to their unattainable figures as they walked. Though some attempted to shift the trend toward body positivity with diverse body types, the hashtag is mostly full of extremely skinny waists, feeding the app with what is known as thinspo, which inspires people to lose weight and to trigger disordered eating thoughts and practices. For those suffering or recovering from an eating disorder, trends such as this one almost ensure an inability to recover.
Body checking, the habit of seeking information about your body’s weight, shape, size, or appearance, on TikTok presents a controversial issue: are people responsible for avoiding their own triggers or do influencers need to take more care about how what they post affects others? Many TikTok users who post these harmful videos are blissfully unaware of their effect on those who view their videos, either proud of their bodies (as everyone should be) or eager to try the newest trends (as most people are). The more pressing issue lies with those who have a full awareness of how their videos affect those with eating disorders, mostly those who have experience with the eating disorder community and continue to post. Many with eating disorders have described the condition as highly competitive, constantly comparing themselves to others who suffer in a similar way.