It all started with “mewing,” a trend that involved people keeping their tongues at the roof of their mouths in order to make their jawlines sharper. Now it has moved on to bone-smashing.
TikTokers, as has been noted many times over, are concerned with aesthetics, from perfecting skincare routines to beauty filters to makeup and outfit selection. That’s why it isn’t surprising that trends claiming to make your jawline sharper have gone viral.
Even by that standard, however, bone-smashing qualifies as particularly out there. It involves young men hitting their faces with a hammer or their fists in order to “chisel” their facial structure.
Videos labeled with the #bonesmashing hashtag have already racked up hundreds of millions of views. While many observers believe the trend shouldn’t be taken seriously, others seem to genuinely believe that repeatedly hitting their faces to create small fractures can actually make them more aesthetically pleasing.
Bone-smashing can be traced back to some of the darker corners of the internet. The first conversations about the practice began appearing around 2018, according to Know Your Meme.
Its earliest devotees claimed that bone-smashing could be a part of a “looksmaxxing” routine to make a person better-looking. Looksmaxxing refers to making changes to one’s appearance, whether via bone-smashing, nose jobs or leg-lengthening surgery, in order to maximize attractiveness.
Bone-smashing only gained traction on TikTok during the last year or two, with the first videos appearing in 2022 and going viral earlier this year. Now that the trend has established itself on TikTok, of course, the reaction videos have followed. Many recent bone-smashing videos mock the practice rather than espouse it.
Dr. Prem Tripathi, a facial plastic surgeon who has more than 640,000 followers on TikTok, posted a reaction video to the bone-smashing trend. Not surprisingly, she stressed its danger.
“I honestly never thought I’d have to come on here and say this, but please don’t intentionally break the bones in your face,” Tripathi said. “If you displace those bones, and they have to heal on their own, you could end up with something like this. It’s called malunion, where the bones are not healed properly and you can end up disfigured.”
According to Penn Medicine, a malunion involves fractured bones healing abnormally, which in turn makes the bones appear “bent.”
“If you’re not given the genetics to have a jawline like this, unfortunately you have to see a trained professional,” Tripathi continued in the video. “Mewing or covering your mouth with tape or breaking your bones is not going to give you a jawline like this.”
Plenty of TikTok commenters have noted they’d try bone-smashing even if it were dangerous, so long as it worked. But experts say a person’s bones will not heal in a more “desirable alignment” after bone smashing.
“The idea that randomly breaking your bone will magically result in a more desirable cosmetic appearance… is at best magical thinking,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Etan Sugarman.
In short, people who are desperate to achieve a strong jawline may want to try mewing instead. But even this practice comes with drawbacks, as TikTok physician influencers have debunked its efficacy. They note that while mewing may work for a photo, it won’t change the shape of a jawline in the long run.