TikTok Body Positive Challenge Draws Backlash Over 'Skinny Girls'

Like many social media platforms that have become part of the online influencer boom, TikTok, especially in the U.S., has followed the trend of skyrocketing a certain kind of person to fame. These accounts boast hundreds of thousands of fans, such as Charli D'Amelio's famous 100 million follower count, and are often run by young, wealthy, attractive and thin people.

The comments section of many of these accounts, like Charli's, are often full of users lamenting their own appearance in comparison to that of the influencer. Some go so far as to say they "won't be eating dinner" after seeing tight abs and thin tummies doing viral dances on their screens.

In an attempt to combat this problem, many TikTokers who consider themselves to be more "average" looking people have taken to sharing videos of their own figures and reassuring others that all bodies, including plus-size ones, are good bodies.

One of the more popular body-positive trends right now features someone using a piece of audio that encourages people, mostly women, to pose like they would in a flattering social media picture—stomachs sucked in and legs stretched out—and then relax and slump over to show their belly rolls, back fat and cellulite. They pair the images with a person saying "bodies that look like this also look like this," which was originally created by user @marycjskinner.

Though the format was originally picked up by some popular users considered fit or thin in order to show that their figures aren't as perfect as the curated photos they post on Instagram, more and more plus-size people started making their own videos. The sound became a way for people with all different body types to represent themselves, including people with different medical conditions. Lizzo even joined in, posting a bikini clad clip that showed off her famous figure.

But some, like user @serenagigli0tti have called out "skinny" users for "not understanding" the point of the trend. In a dueted video, @serenagigli0tti superimposes herself over a thin woman on a body positive video posted by @mokvzynskq and says: "Girl, I don't think you quite understand what this trend is supposed to be about. DELETE." The post by @mokvzynskq was captioned "because body-shaming does not only apply to obese people" and had the comments turned off.

Commenters on @serenagigli0tti's post, accused the @mokvzynskq's post of being "attention-seeking" and "thinspo." One user wrote: "It's like I'm perfect but yeah don't body shame I'm still perfect." Another said: "We aren't saying y'all can't be insecure but you guys ARE the beauty standard and so many would die to look like this."

In a video liked 1.8 million times, @l1ttleblackg1rl took her criticism a step further, pointing out her issues with the trend as a whole.

"The issues with TikTok's version of the body positive movement is that you have thin girls who go 'so, I know I'm, like, skinny and I'm society's acceptable body, but sometimes, when I sit down and I, like, scrunch like this, I have back rolls too,'" said @l1ttleblackg1rl. "Like, even though, like, when you walk around every single day, like, you're fat all the damn time, so you always have rolls, if I really, really, really try, I can give myself imperfections too.'"

She went on to ask users: "What's imperfect about my back rolls? Like, what's imperfect about my fat in general? Besides the fact that y'all just don't like it? Like, that, that's the issue."


#ColorCustomizer shout out to @ariana.muy.grande for starting this convo bc it’s one we need to have

♬ original sound - Rocky

She said that women contorting their bodies to show off their rolls was sending the message that they look "great" every day until they show off their "imperfections," which actually reflect what other people's bodies look like all the time.

"Do ya'll not get how that makes people feel?" she asked.

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TikTok has upward of 800 million unique users. Drew Angerer/Getty