The Trend #SummerBody Is Blowing up on TikTok & Might Be Harming Your Teens

As if there wasn’t enough pressure already for teens and tweens growing up in 2023, some corners of social media are piling on even more of it. What’s currently appearing all over TikTok For You Pages (or FYP, as the kids call it) as the warmer weather hits and schools finish up the year is the diet culture-focused trend #SummerBody. And as a parent who is also subjected to this messaging, you may have many concerns about your teens and tweens viewing this content, understandably.

What is this hashtag, and where is it coming from? Influencers and everyday people on the app are creating content about reaching a certain body image goal for the summer, and the videos have amassed over 1.8 billion views recently. Harmful diet culture-related messaging seems to surface on the app seasonally, but it’s really blowing up in 2023.

People who have thousands of followers on the app are posting videos in which they are measuring their waistline and how it gets smaller over time, making a recipe called “summer body salad,” and showing unrealistic images of how to “grow your biceps” — proof that TikTok’s diet culture content is targeting and potentially harming teen boys just as much as girls.

All of these videos have hundreds of thousands of likes, and might be reaching your kids’ accounts via TikTok’s algorithm if they ever look for recipe, workouts, or even dance content. And for the 67% of teens who are on the app, according to a 2022 Pew Research survey, constantly absorbing this content could lead to them internalizing that they have to look a certain way, restrain their eating, or weigh a certain amount to enjoy themselves this summer.

So what should parents do to combat this messaging?

SheKnows has previously reported that videos related to dieting and measuring the body can be triggers for tweens and teens to develop eating disorders or simply to develop unrealistic expectations about their own bodies, many of which are still growing. On a basic level, dietitians like Ashley Lytwyn, a nutritionist who specializes in treating patients with eating disorders suggest either having your child delete the app and making a new account so they can tailor which videos show up, or if your teen or tween is protesting to save their following, encouraging them to like more content about their interests and hobbies (or heck, even puppies) to stray from anti-fat bias and diet culture talk.

But above all, you should be the one to open up dialogue for these conversations, no matter how awkward they are at first, about what makes your child or children feel uncomfortable about their own body, Donna Fish, L.C.S.W.-R., author of Take the Fight Out of Food and expert on disordered eating told SheKnows.  This isn’t easy, especially when you’re being pelted with diet culture-y messaging yourself, but you can even be vulnerable yourself and share what has made you feel less than and how you worked through that. Body acceptance is huge — sometimes you can just encourage your kids to recognize that their body is okay and healthy as it is, no matter what size or shape it is, and any negative commentary about it is just coming from other peoples’ insecurities.

Related story

Is Social Media Wrecking Our Kids' Mental Health? What Parents Need to Know

Kids are going to model what they see (at least most of the time), so if your voice is louder than the influencers on TikTok, they can break through the noise of diet culture and work toward a healthier body image as they mature.

Source: Read Full Article