*Trigger Warning: This story contains descriptions and information about eating disorders which may be triggering to those who are currently experiencing or have experienced an eating disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with this mental health condition, please seek help. You can call the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline at 1-800-931-2237 for assistance.*
We constantly hear about how social media negatively impacts our lives. Diet culture, toxic masculinity, and social anxiety are only a few examples of how Tik Tok can influence how we see ourselves. However, I am here to share my experience of how this media platform prevents me from losing myself.
2019 was my senior year, so in December, my graduation month, we had numerous social activities with the prom dance the most special one. I had always faced trust issues due to my corporal image. I gained 4 to 8kg during middle school, while some of my classmates did the opposite. This made me feel uncomfortable and upset with myself, so I tried every diet you can imagine, but nothing. However, this time, I decided to do whatever it takes to lose weight in the three weeks left before the prom.
At the beginning of the same month, I became in charge of preparing lunch while my parents were at work, so I started skipping lunch and would drink a cup of black coffee instead. When I downloaded Tik Tok, in the beginning, my For Your Page (FYP) was about Charlie D’amelio or funny videos. However, one day, I watched a Tik Tok of “What I eat in a day to lose weight.” The girl weighed 49 kg and only ate 550 calories. I entered her profile, where all her videos she weighed in the morning, and on the next day, she had loose around 0.3 to 0.5kg each day during the week. As I wanted to have the same results, I followed her. Immediately, all my FYP was about this kind of video: girls restricting and starving themselves only for losing weight. I began counting calories and starving myself to a low number of them. In a month, I started getting anxious when others prepared lunch or dinner because I couldn’t count the number of calories I was consuming. Also, binging was part of my weekly habits, which made me feel guilty afterward, being incapable of enjoying what I ate. After three weeks, I heard my friends telling me: “You look great!”, “What do you do to be more skinny!” Of course, I knew that they didn’t say it with bad intentions, but every time I heard it, I remembered those days I threw my breakfast in the trash or ran for about 2.5 hours to keep my calories in zero. “All this sacrifice is worth it,” I thought.
But, does it? It wasn’t until @jaztyles, @kaylaiutzwig, and @rachelrobertss appeared on my FYP and taught me about a term I haven’t heard before: Body Positivity. (Body positivity challenges the popular culture view that there’s an ideal shape, size, and appearance and instead celebrates all bodies.) These Tik Tok creators had diverse content, such as delicious and healthy recipes, they detailed their stories with eating disorders, they spoke about their recovery journey, and they even shared some health tips. These Tik Tok influencers taught me that healthy doesn’t mean skinny, especially if your mental health is not okay with it.
If we want to start a healthy journey, food is not the only thing that has to change – we also have to change the way we see it. Food fuels our body and allows us to breathe and enjoy every exciting moment of our lives. Also, we need to change some habits, such as weighing ourselves every day, having a more active lifestyle, nourishing our mind with positive affirmations, and most importantly, listening to our bodies.
If someday we don’t feel good enough to don’t exercise, it is okay. Tomorrow, you can get back on track. Or if it’s your mom’s birthday, so you’re going to have a buffet dinner, eat what your body feels enjoys! Having a healthy lifestyle is finding a balance between what your body needs and your body wants. And believe me, no diet will encourage that.
And remember, if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you are brave for talking about it, and check out the resources on BTWF’s Get Help Page.