June 25, 2024

TikTok’s Unrealistic Trends

By: Elle Lockard

TikTok’s emergence has changed social media’s face by captivating millions with its short-form video content. It has become a powerhouse platform that can cater to users’ interests through one- to ten-minute video clips of dance challenges, sports highlights, comedic skits, popular movies and TV shows, beloved influencers, and celebrities. However, amidst the harmless and funny content, this media outlet tends to entertain unrealistic trends and standards that harm viewers’ self-esteem and mental health.

I will admit that I find myself scrolling through my ForYou page, spending an abnormal amount of time watching aesthetic and seamless “day in my life,” “what I eat in a day,” clean girl aesthetic, and weight-loss journey videos daily. Why? Because it’s captivating.

The ability to glimpse into seemingly perfect lifestyles is undeniably alluring and motivating for all the wrong reasons. Creators’ content frequently consists of effortless daily routines, meticulously planned outfits, pristine homes, healthy diets, workout classes, etc. These snippets of flawless appearances and uncomplicated routines often does not accurately represent the creator’s realistic day-to-day life.

In addition, TikTok enables people to share big stories in limited time. While this creates a powerful storytelling platform, it also increases the risk of misinformation. For example, I can’t tell you how often a thirty-second weight-loss journey video appears on my ForYou page. These videos show significant and impressive body transformations. However, the carefully curated clip lacks and cannot demonstrate the years of work it took to obtain such results.

Speaking from personal experience, overconsumption of such content increases anxiety and contributes to negative body image. Research shows that overconsumption of TikTok content “[lowers]median body image score (64.0, IQR: 54.0-72.0) in comparison to the non-users (67.0, IQR: 58.0-73.0), p=0.037…” (Anas Ibn Auf Abbas Ibn Auf, Nov. 2023). This is significantly due to the manipulated trends that glorify unattainable lifestyle standards and expectations, nurturing an environment of self-doubt and comparison.

TikTok has revolutionized the way that we consume media regularly. It has created new ways of content creation, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and information. We, as users, have the choice to let media consume us or not. This is why it is so important we understand how easy it is for content to be curated and filtered. With TikTok’s boundless opportunities, I encourage all active users to continue utilizing this platform with healthy skepticism and acknowledge the vast ways of misinformation stemming from this media outlet.

One thought on “TikTok’s Unrealistic Trends

  1. Hi Elle!
    I have to admit that my for you page is very similar to yours. I follow and interact with a lot of gym content and constantly seeing weight loss content and unrealistic bodies does do a number on my and many other people’s conception of what a body is supposed to look like (at least realistically). Like TikTok, a lot of social media platforms only capture the best parts of someone’s life. Along with getting a ton of PR from brands, not everyone can afford the new i.v. treatment or healthy gut gummy. Great job on your blog post!

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