Does anyone else miss the days when TikTok trends consisted only of banana bread, minimum-effort dance routines and ASMR soap-cutting videos? Fast forward three years, and we’re now looking at reports of yet another unnerving trend encouraging the fixation, analysis, and comparison of our bodies. Sigh.
The body checking trend has dominated the video-sharing platform, with #bodychecking acquiring over 5.8 million views. The act of body checking refers to the repeated action of assessing different aspects of your body or weight throughout the day.
The trend at hand doesn’t follow a distinct pattern of videos or even the use of a particular song. Instead, it has contaminated our FYPs disguised under various videos, trends, and hashtags, including #wellness, #thinspo, #workoutroutine, #whatieatinaday and #bodypositivity. Which, TBH, makes it even more problematic and dangerous. How do we avoid something we can barely even detect?
Whether a montage of videos of a body positioned at different angles, or bodies warped by filters, or the largely critiqued ‘I bet she’s fat under those baggy clothes’ trend – body checking has become deeply embedded into TikTok’s algorithms.
Our bodies are not a door that needs to be locked or a to-do list – so why are we checking them? Be that in many cases – once, twice or, thanks to social media – hundreds of times a day. Don’t get me wrong, being aware of your body, what it needs and what it does is important, but the hyperawareness and constant glorification of videos indirectly showing what it should look like, can pose a serious threat to users who struggle with body image. This constant observation – be that conscious or unconscious – just reiterates the (disgusting and dangerous) view that body diversity and uniquity should be criticised. Diet culture: episode 1 million.
After, cautiously clicking the hashtag, I was somewhat relieved to find the top video to be critiquing the latest fad that has been dominating for-you pages. The video says, “Constantly worrying about whether your body is big or small […] how it’s moving when you’re out and about, um, that’s not normal that’s called body checking.” She continued to say, “Your body should just like exist.”
One creator, @positively_fawizzle, decided to actively document her ‘body count’ of her gym session – described by the TikToker as “count[ing] how many times I body checked at the gym.” She finished the video by counting 14 instances of body checking during her short session. 14! If you decided to compliment yourself every time you had the urge to body check, imagine how many compliments you’d get – just saying.
GLAMOUR spoke to Psychological and Wellbeing Practitioner Noor Mubarak, from The Private Therapy Clinic, about what body checking is, why we do it, the impact of TikTok and how we can try to reduce the habit.
What is body checking?
Noor explains that “It is the act of assessing different aspects of your body – this could be by weighing yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror, measuring parts of your body or taking videos of your body from different angles. More specifically to TikTok, body checking has been seen in trends such as attempting to fit both hands around one’s waist or weight loss progress videos – but it can also be seen much more subtly in videos masquerading as someone simply standing in front of the camera drinking a glass of water.”