The Eating Disorder Trend on TikTok

Before reading, I want to warn readers that this blog may be triggering to some. This post will be discussing eating disorders, and anyone who has suffered or is currently suffering from one is encouraged not to read any further.

I’m pretty much always on TikTok; it’s such an entertaining app of creative, fun, and sometimes mindless videos. By now, it’s one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, and your video can be seen by millions. Typically the videos are just harmless fun, but I’ve noticed, at least on my algorithm, that some of the videos are centered around eating disorders. There have been about tips on counting calories, curbing hunger, “goal weights,” and so forth. It’s almost like a trend now, and honestly, it’s very disturbing to see. These sorts of videos stay with people, and they’re now popping up everywhere on the app.

When you are putting on videos on “how to diet” and giving incredibly unhealthy tips, you are portraying these as normal eating habits. I’ve seen videos on how people curb their hunger by actually filming what they eat in a day, which doesn’t consist of healthy portion sizes of beneficial food. There are many videos based on calorie counting, which can lead to anorexia. The act of counting calories may seem harmless, but on TikTok, the calories are unhealthily low. I have even seen a video of someone telling viewers that the best way to eat and not gain weight was to chew and spit their food out. There are videos of people suffering from an eating disorder and filming them losing weight or showing their “goal body.” These sorts of videos are incredibly dangerous, and because they are circulating on such a popular app, they can be very triggering to a large audience. It affects people who have body image issues or people recovering from eating disorders. Since these accounts are public, anyone can see them. These videos could show up on anyone’s algorithm and greatly affect the person who’s watching. 

An article by Buzzfeed News details these issues as well, showing that this has been happening to millions of other people too. There’s audio based around eating disorders and videos of people who are way too thin.

People with eating disorders want to be the thinnest by taking in the least amount of calories possible. These sorts of videos encourage them to do whatever it takes to be that “goal weight.” That “goal weight” also is severely thin and not realistic. Repercussions of these kinds of videos can lead to hospitalization.

This isn’t the first time eating disorders were seen all over social media. These trends on TikTok remind me of the trends on Tumblr back in 2014. Eating disorders, drug use, and mental illness were all over the place and provocative images were scattered throughout the website. Quotes about “goal weights” and not eating were popular on Tumblr at the time and it affected countless people. While it eventually died down on Tumblr, TikTok seems to be the new platform for this sort of content. Anyone could stumble upon it, and pre-teens and teenagers are most likely to be affected by these sorts of posts. As someone who has had issues with eating patterns in the past, it’s upsetting and a little triggering to see this type of content. It makes you worry and become obsessive about your own body weight and eating habits. Giving “tips” on how to not eat or how to avoid eating too much can make someone want to follow that example. People can fall back into these habits easily because it triggers them to think about what they eat and how much they eat. The fact that it’s mostly teenagers or young adults using TikTok means that they’re most likely to be impacted.

I’ve seen a lot of comments calling out the videos, especially because many of them just appeared randomly on people’s main pages. There’s so many of these accounts, and some have called themselves dieting accounts. Even if the intentions were for dieting, many of the videos do not include healthy dieting tips, and they border on eating disorder habits. 

I honestly hope that everyone reading this doesn’t know about this trend. It’s unhealthy, and it’s horrible that a fixation on eating habits is becoming prominent on social media yet again. I’ve noticed it grow in the past few months, and hopefully, TikTok will start to take these kinds of videos down. It may not seem like a big issue, but the impact of these videos can be harmful when they encourage their viewers to engage in dangerous eating habits. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out to them or contact the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 880-931-2237.

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