I had heard the buzz about Tik Tok in the summer of 2019 and thought to myself, “No way am I going to download this. It’s probably really dumb and to be honest it couldn’t beat what musical.ly was.” Now it’s June 2020 and I go about my day quoting over a hundred references and singing songs that I got from Tik Tok. When I first downloaded it, I got hooked from the very first video. The thing about this app is that once you start scrolling, you can’t stop. If you look at my account, there are about a thousand (maybe even more) videos that I’ve liked and overflowed the DM’s of my friends with. But over the recent months, it’s changed the way I feel about myself. 

Getting that “Quarantine Body”

Before I even begin to explain, don’t get me wrong; I love Tik Tok. I laugh every day at the videos and even attempt to learn the dances that are trending. When quarantine first began, this app is what kept me alive during the first few weeks. I know it’s unhealthy, but this generation is practically living on social media. I started noticing videos of girls working out and posting things about getting that “quarantine body.”

Initially, I was intrigued by this and started noting down the things that they were doing. After several attempts, I felt like I didn’t see results. What I failed to notice was that the results were there, but I was trying to look like the girls I saw on my phone. I felt like whatever I was doing was never going to meet the expectations I had in my mind. What stood out to me was that under these posts, girls would be commenting things like, “I wish I could look like this.” or “I’m going to stop eating now,” or “This made me want to stop breathing.”

Falling into a state of feeling sad, alone, and different from all my friends, I would spend so much time on Instagram and other social media platforms. I would see images of girls and wonder to myself, “Why can’t I have a nice side profile?” or “How come her fat never shows on her face, but mine does?” I spent nights crying and wishing I had looked different, longing for people to accept me as pretty. Even though my friends would tell me I’m pretty and that I didn’t need to change myself, those felt like just words to me because it’s easier said than done. I deleted all social media apps off my phone for a few days because it felt like my walls were closing in. But here’s where things took a turn.

“Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your body and society/diet culture has fed you lies”

Victoria Garrick

Making The Change

About two weeks ago, I was doing my usual thing on Tik Tok when I stumbled across a girl named Victoria Garrick (@victoriagarrick4) who was talking about gaining weight during the quarantine. She quoted, “We are in a global crisis where thousands of people are suffering and dying. It’s okay if you are feeling unmotivated or are anxious.” That led me to go on her page, which was filled with motivating posts and ways to love yourself no matter how you are. I hit a new realization; Tik Tok had led me to learn so many new things about working out like what “hip dips” were. However, I didn’t even know what hip dips were until the internet told me to be insecure about them. I mean, I didn’t even know I had them or had to “work on them” until I saw the videos.

This made me realize that sometimes just because a majority of people are doing something, that doesn’t always mean it’s right. There can be a lot of toxic build-up on social media leading you to think you need to change yourself to fit in when your uniqueness is what brings you out. So don’t spend time scrolling through your friends or anyone’s post for that matter, wishing you we’re good enough.

Love Yourself Instead of Loving The Idea of Other People Loving You

Today, as of June 22, 2020, I have learned a lot about body image and toxic culture. It’s okay to want to be fit and be active or work out! You should work out to feel good and get a boost of energy, not because you hate your body or feel guilty for eating. Recently, I started running outside in the nice weather. Running was something I used to hate, but now it’s something I enjoy. The headspace and mindset you keep are what will get you going on the right path. Try thinking about how nice you’ll feel after going for a walk or run instead of pressurizing your mind that you need to run to lose fat.

I still struggle and feel frustrated when my body doesn’t fit the expectations of my mind. I haven’t reached that point of feeling completely happy about my body, but I’m still working on myself to be healthier every day and make the right choices. I’m filling my mind with positive thoughts about my progress and rewarding myself rather than being negative. And yes, I still use Tik Tok but have found its purpose as entertainment and comedy because that’s what it’s for! If I ever see a post of someone who looks good, I don’t feel as bad anymore because we’re ALL beautiful in our ways. Instead, hype each other up instead of feeling low about yourself.

Just remember this: If we all ate the same and exercised the same, we would still have different bodies. You were crafted beautifully by your creator, so don’t ever think you need to change that.

Read also:
An Open Letter To The Girls Who Are “Not Like Other Girls”
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty: Artist And Activist Florence Given’s Debut Book
Problematic Fitness Cults Of Quarantine