Summer is right around the corner and with it comes more trends on TikTok that encourage weight loss to achieve the vaunted ‘summer body.’
The #SummerBody hashtag on the platform has garnered nearly two billion views – with videos touting diets, workout plans, cleanses, progress pics, salad recipes and pretty much anything else you would imagine that has to do with weight loss.
#SummerBody videos often come complete with hashtags like #Fitness or #WeightLoss or #SixPackAbs.
One video with nearly 300,000 views features a bodybuilder influencer with 6.5 million followers telling people how to get their summer bodies.
“What matters is you burn some calories… Limit to indulgence once a week – make sure it’s controlled,” he says. “You need to be burning more calories than what you’re consuming.”
This trend’s viral popularity has caused mostly young users to scramble to achieve their ideal summer body. However, the hashtag comes with pitfalls, as it can trigger people who have eating disorders, encourage unhealthy weight loss habits or fuel body dissatisfaction.
One TikTok, which has nearly 250,000 likes, shows sped-up videos of girls doing push ups and lifting weights at the gym, with the words “Us when we realize we only have two months left to get our summer [bodies].”
The top comment strikes back: “I’m so done with girls with model type [bodies] complaining. [You] already have a summer body.”
Another #SummerBody video with nearly half a million likes shows a girl going to donate blood, with her noting that she’s recommending it “because it burns 650 calories.”
While most comments on the videos joked that everyone was going to donate blood, one prominent comment pushed back on the suggestion and called the video a potential trigger for people with eating disorders.
“Why post this tho?” TikToker Catarina wrote. “You’re only giving ideas to [people] with [eating disorders] who may be very weak and need their blood.”
In light of the push and pull surrounding summer bodies, one nonprofit is stepping up its call for more body image protections online.
ParentsTogether, a family advocacy group, has recently called out the trend as “extreme” and “dangerous,” noting it could promote unhealthy calorie restriction and weight loss goals.
“As summer officially kicks off, millions of teens are at risk of being inundated with social media content promoting risky dieting and weight loss in pursuit of a ‘summer body’ or to get ‘bikini ready,’” ParentsTogether said in a statement. “Parents should know that social media platforms will show young teens content promoting dangerous dieting and weight loss behaviors, sometimes framed as ‘summer body’ plans.”
The organization noted that its researchers spent hours on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram analyzing videos of the trend by using accounts that were registered as a 14-year-old girl. The plan was to see what the average teen may be exposed to.
All of the platforms, ParentsTogether concluded, hosted videos that showcased thin bodies, extreme calorie restriction, unhealthy weight loss goals, plastic surgery as well as unproven cleanses and diet products.
The ParentsTogether statement came shortly after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently announced that social media has a negative impact on young people’s mental health.
Social media is known to trigger people to compare themselves to others and this is, of course, true when it comes to body image.
Murthy’s advisory noted that social media can “perpetuate body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, social comparison and low self-esteem, especially among adolescent girls.”
The concerns raised by Murthy and countless others have been backed up by research.
One recent study published in PLOS Global Public Health concluded that “social media usage is a plausible risk factor for the development of eating disorders.” The researchers declared that the issue “is worthy of attention as an emerging global public health issue.”
Fortunately, there are numerous videos under the #SummerBody hashtag aiming to counter the negativity.
Some are benign videos that show healthy salad recipes, for example.
Meanwhile, others are directly responding to the trends that show thin, filtered people as the pinnacle of “summer bodies” and instead feature women showing off their bodies no matter the size or weight – and embracing themselves as beautiful.
TikToker @luvjessicablair posted a video of her showing off her bikini, noting that “I decided to remake this in my string bikini because my tummy will be OUT all summer,” with the hashtags #SummerBody, #SelfLove, #Confident and #BodyPositivity.
Other users are pushing back on negative body images by being humorous.
TikToker Mammy Banter posted a video with 215,000 views that starts off with: “How to get a banging summer body in 3 simple steps.”
Then she goes on to say: “Step one, make sure it’s summer. Step two, have a body. Step three, “Make that body bang.”