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Toxic TikTok trends that need to be done away with

It feels impossible at times to avoid any toxic TikTok trends on your FYP (for you page) that concern diet, weight gain, weight loss, body positivity, or straight-up body shaming.

TikTok users need to take the time to understand the implications of the trends they’re posting or commenting on, especially if these trends are toxic and can have a lasting impact on a viewer’s wellbeing.

Trigger Warning: Mention of eating disorders and calorie counting.

“Bodies that look like this” 

A person with any body type can promote body positivity. However, individuals with beauty-standard features tend to drown out the voices of those who don’t meet these arbitrary standards.

One current trend that uses audio with the words, “bodies that look like this, also look like this,” reveals this pattern. 


💗 #OurType#normalizenormalbodies#bodypositivity#bodyimage#bodyneutrality#bodyconfident#edrecovery#midsize#size6#size8#confident

♬ bodies that look like this also look like this – skinner 🌙

These TikToks consist of people, usually women, showing themselves in Insta-worthy poses, only to switch into positions that reveal their “imperfections,” like showing their stomach rolls when sitting. Some have found these TikToks encouraging.

However, there is a near-unanimous negative response whenever a thin person attempts this trend. User @queenavaagain participated by creating a TikTok of herself posing in a bikini. People responded with comments such as “I’m confused.

She looks the same before and after,” and, “this trend is not for you.” These comments emphasize how someone in a privileged position trying to act relatable is counterproductive—some might even say validation-seeking.

When using TikTok, it is necessary that we fully consider how a trend originated, who it is for, and how our participation or lack thereof can support a positive environment on social media. 


#bodiesthatlooklikethis #bodypositivity #swimseason #summer2021 #swimfit

♬ bodies that look like this also look like this – skinner 🌙

If you are on TikTok, chances are that you have heard of Sienna Mae Gomez. She became popular for her confidence and for aiming to promote body positivity.

But lately, she has gotten a lot of backlash. Some TikTok users claim she started using her platform for body positivity irresponsibly after she supposedly lost weight.

In one of her TikToks with the caption “bloating,” she shows her side profile before and after eating a meal. Many TikTok users were quick to point out that there was no real difference in her stomach size. User0187038840 commented, “U used to be more like relatable and now it just seems like u r trying to be the opposite?”  



♬ Exclamation mark – user1471355415026

Anyone can endorse body positivity. But perhaps there is a more sensitive way that people who meet the beauty standard can promote these causes. They should not drown out the voices of those who these trends are intended to support. 


#WhatIEatInADay has been a social media trend for a while now: what I eat in a day to lose weight fast, what I eat in a day as a model, what I eat in a day hungover, what I eat in a day during eating disorder recovery.

I’ve seen TikToks like these since quarantine last spring. Not all users list calories along with the foods they eat, but for those who do (usually to promote weight loss), some of these numbers are alarmingly low.

Some users include trigger warnings, but not everyone. Regardless, of this trend, there’s a delicate balance between promoting a healthy relationship with food and endangering this relationship.

For example, some people in eating disorder recovery post TikToks of themselves eating throughout the day. These users generally intend to help others going through similar experiences.

Brittani Lancaster posts #WhatIEatInADay regularly while in recovery from two eating disorders, and her supporters show their appreciation.

One user, @classiccancercrybaby, commented, “your content has genuinely been the most healing thing in terms of my reconnection with my own body and heart. thank you so deeply for all that you do.”


Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mamas in the world!!

♬ love – imo 🙂

On the other hand, other toxic versions of #WhatIEatInADay can be triggering to those struggling with their body image.

We need to be cognizant of how to best support a body-positive environment. We need to think about how we can accommodate for those living with eating disorders or disordered eating—especially now.

As reported by the National Eating Disorders Association, they received “a spike of more than 70% in the number of calls and online chat inquiries” from 2019 to 2020. The pandemic has instigated a rise in the number of those seeking treatment for eating disorders.

In “Anorexia in the Time of COVID,” Lalita Abhyankkar illuminates that “eating disorders are only partially about body dysmorphia and body image.

They often stem from an attempt to achieve control while in a state of anxiety and uncertainty.” With Abhyankkar’s explanation in mind, one can recognize how the pandemic—undoubtedly a time of “anxiety and uncertainty”—can act as a risk factor for those struggling with body image or eating disorders.

On top of exposure to toxic social media trends and the anxiety of living through a pandemic, many of us have had to work from home in isolation. We limited our grocery runs and over-stocked our kitchens.

And, some of us may have become concerned about our weight when “underweight” and “obese” were considered risks for COVID. All of these anxiety-inducing conditions have acted as risk factors for those susceptible to eating disorders or disordered eating. 

The overlap between COVID and body image has manifested in TikTok. We have seen weight loss, diet, and body image trends recycle incessantly on our FYPs since March 2020.

It is our responsibility to stop participating in these toxic trends. You never know whose mental health and wellbeing you may be jeopardizing. 

Boney M

Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ is the newest song revitalized on TikTok

TikTok has a tendency to create trending sounds out of random songs and audio bits. Its latest obsession: 70s Euro disco group Boney M’s “Rasputin,” the song that details the history of the Russian teacher, preacher, and love machine.

We reached out to former members to learn about the group and the song.

Ultimately, we learned how to recontextualize music with problematic pasts.

Just a TikTok song?

“There lived a certain man in Russia long ago.”

If you know the rest of the lyrics to this song: “he was big and strong and his eyes were flaming gold,” you’re likely one of the following:

a) active on TikTok; b) from Europe or Russia; c) big into 70s Euro disco.

I am both a and b. Thus, scrolling through TikTok this past month was surprised by the song’s sudden appearance on the app.

The trend, in which teens flex their muscles or their dancing skills, took off earlier this year and hasn’t shown any signs of dying out anytime soon. 

What is even more surprising was how little people knew the group that brought us this bop and that they created more than just “that TikTok song.”

Evidently, an introduction to Boney M is necessary. For this and to figure out what the appeal of Rasputin is to TikTok Gen Z’ers, I reached out to Sheyla Bonnick and one former member of the group who, retrospectively, requested not to be mentioned in this piece.

A history lesson of the Euro disco group

Boney M, the brainchild of German music producer Frank Farian, was brought together in 1975.

They quickly grew to be a Euro disco powerhouse. Sheyla Bonnick, who was born in Jamaica but now lives in Spain, was brought on as one of the first people to “audition.”

“There wasn’t really an audition as such,” Bonnick said. Voice checks were minimal and “it was all just accidentally put together.”

Back row, from left to right: Maizie Williams, Claudja Barry, and Sheyla Bonnick. In front: dancer who was only known as Mike

Bonnick left the group after about nine months. 

Next, vocalists Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, who were both from Jamaica, Maizie Williams, from Montserrat, and dancer Bobby Farrell, from Aruba were brought on. These four would go on to be the main members of Boney M and the face of Euro-Caribbean disco for many.

Describing Boney M’s sound is tricky; it’s a fun blend between standard European Disco riffs, a healthy dose of Middle Eastern melody patterns, and, thanks to its members’ Caribbean heritage, it is also filled with reggae sensibility and influences. 

This is where we need to pivot in the story. While exploring Rasputin’s appeal to the youth is fun, there is a certain overtone in Boney M’s themes that need further dismantling first.

Talking to Bonnick, racial issues at the core of the group shine through.

A problematic past for Boney M

In the creation of the group, the choice for a mostly Caribbean collective was not one made out of particular care for the rich cultural history of the area.

As Bonnick explained, it was “Frank’s baby so he didn’t seem to need anyone else, just for the image: three black girls, a black guy.” 

This is also reflected in Frank Farian’s quote: “all members [of Boney M] could be replaced except Liz [Mitchell].”

This can be seen as praise for Liz Mitchell, but also reflects how Farian perceived all other members as disposable.

Boney M’s albums

When I asked the former member about this quote, they interpreted it differently. To them, this particular quote from Farian speaks more to the creative process of the group. “The actual full-course sound of Boney M was Frank Farian and [Liz Mitchell],” they explained.

“He was the male vocals doing, you know, the low part with the female vocals tracking [Liz Mitchell].” 

Former member Boney M, 2021

They brought up songs that were, despite their ensemble sound, actually pure solo’s such as “Sunny” and “Mary’s Boy Child”. They would record Liz Mitchell’s voice in different tracks and layer them together.

“The actual sound of the group, the group sound, was made by [Liz Mitchell]. And I think that’s why he said that,” the former member explained.  

This doesn’t fully explore the depths of Farian’s words though.

His saying that all members are replaceable spoke to a group dynamic in which the majority of the members were there as either pawns or puppets.

They were placeholders and stand-ins for an idealized and exoticized image that Farian – being white and German – wouldn’t be able to fill. 

Bonnick echoes these sentiments when looking back at the beginning days of the group.

“This sounds a little bit intense, but I really feel there was some sort of a slavery aspect,” she said, “not in a deep, malicious way but there was still a usage of (…) Black people.” 

Sheyla Bonnick

“I actually left at the right time,” she said when describing the concepts for Boney M’s album covers.

Notably, the first album features Bobby Farrell in something resembling a loincloth towering over the three women who are on the floor, draped over each other.

Love for sale

The second album, “Love for Sale”, shows the members, once again near-nude, but this time in chains. “That was also seen as something so exotic and something so original but morally I felt that wasn’t right at all,” Bonnick added.  

Still, the former member was reluctant to talk about these tensions.

“I will leave that alone as I don’t know what and who is saying what,” they wrote to my follow-up question days after our interview.

“Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.” They signed it with the typical British “Xx.”

So, wait, what now? What started as a piece exploring the song’s appeal to the youth turned into a bigger question: how can we appreciate and enjoy art while acknowledging and address its problematic roots?

What happens when the context of the music has been ignored or forgotten? 

Working with Boney M

Despite these tones of exoticization, both Bonnick and the former member still look back fondly on the group’s music.

Both artists stress the joy their work with Boney M brought and continues to bring audiences. Both continue performing with both Boney M songs and their own solo work. 

“Rasputin,” like “Sunny” or “Daddy Cool,” speaks to this joy.

“Rasputin has proven to just be the song that is just going over the times. Young people still feel that they can just hop away, skip away, jump away,” Mitchell said about the song.

“Whatever the energy is, it’s still alive today.” 

Former member Boney M

The former member hadn’t seen the Rasputin TikTok trends yet. “I think it’s crazy, wonderfully crazy that it is doing what it’s doing today,” they said.

What is celebrated on TikTok right now, is not the aesthetics of the group’s albums. When TikTok creators dance to Rasputin, they don’t do so to support the inherently racist structure that brought the members together.

And “Sunny’s appeal” does not lie in the exploitative nature of the group’s origin. 

Instead, it celebrates joy. It celebrates being silly and fun and carefree.

Everything both Bonnick and the former member highlighted as reasons they still love performing the songs today – more than twenty years after the group’s disbandment. 

‘Rasputin’ the song

Finally, there’s the platform itself. Maybe TikTok, with its relative diversity and tongue-in-cheek approach to most sounds it pulls into its algorithm, is the best way to consume past bops with problematic production. 

Maybe in the 21st century, the Rasputin line “he was big and strong” has to be accompanied by exposed arms and chests, excessive flexing.

The next, “and his eyes were flaming gold” has to be accompanied by a sultry stare into the camera. 

Looking back at Rasputin, the music, fan appreciation, and TikTok, the former member added one thought: “I think that we created something that was really warming.”

tiktok stripper

TikTok strippers tell us what’s up with the new trend and more…

The relationship between TikTok and strippers that use the platform as a means of livelihood is a fragile one, with trends relating to sex work only amplifying the distrust at play.

“They add warnings on the bottom of my videos that say things like, ‘the action in this video could result in serious injury,'” Sky Hopscotch, @skyhopscotch on TikTok, writes about the platform in an email to Kulture Hub. 

“It hurts us. It damages our online presence and foot traffic to our other socials, and veils the natural reality of sex work,” she adds. 


Stop the unnecessary censorship of sex workers on TikTok.


Debunking stripper myths while I water my plants. 🌱✨ ##striptok ##whatyoushouldknow ##letsbehonest

♬ original sound – SkyHopscotch

The fragile relationship between TikTok and strippers who use the platform, explained

Hopscotch is an exotic dancer based in Iowa. She uses TikTok to talk about her experience as a stripper.

With almost 80k followers, her videos about “strip club etiquette,” “pole dancing 101,” and “how to make money at the club” work to highlight that very reality of sex work she believes the app tries to erase. 


Strip club etiquette. What to know on your first night. ##striptok ##advice

♬ original sound – SkyHopscotch

Hopscotch is one of many sex workers on the platform using the hashtag “striptok” to connect to fellow exotic dancers and sex workers. Similarly, she is also one of many experiencing TikTok’s restrictive new community guidelines

In mid-December 2020, TikTok released its updated terms of service. One of the updates directly aimed at sex workers on the app. The rule prohibits “content that depicts, promotes, or glorifies sexual solicitation.”

It is telling of TikTok’s view on sex work that this rule is sectioned under “sexual exploitation.”

In a time when more sex workers are turning to the world wide web for income and community, social media platforms are narrowing rules and regulations. This makes it near impossible for sex workers to have an online presence and reach their audience. 

This stripper has found solace in TikTok, especially during the pandemic

Hopscotch has been in the strip club industry for over seven years as an independent contractor. Iowa did not close down its clubs, she said.

However, Hopscotch hasn’t been dancing since the pandemic, because a person with high COVID risk is living with her.

“The dancers aren’t required to wear masks, and they don’t. Neither do the customers,” Hopscotch explained.

“Our clubs here are touch-friendly. So it’s already a very intimate, up-close, and personal job.”


It’s not all a trend: Hopscotch makes sure to explain to young women the realities of stripping and sex work

While Hopscotch, self-proclaimed “stripper fairy godmother,” hasn’t tried online sex work, the internet has provided her with a sense of community.

Her videos, which regularly trend and reach more than 15k views on TikTok, focus on the reality of clubs and provide useful tips for those starting out.

“I try to educate young women who are going into the strip club industry,” Hopscotch said.

“We talk about the cons of stripping, tips, how to get started in the industry, what they should know before going in, and what a typical night entails. TikTok creators glamorize the strip club industry by flashing wads of cash in their videos, but what they’re not sharing, is the hardships that are associated with dancing.”


Is your life falling apart? Can’t pay your rent? What you should bring your first night as an exotic dancer. ##striptok ##funny ##exoticdancer

♬ original sound – SkyHopscotch

The comment sections on her videos are almost like online forums.

Questions about stripping flood in like “how do you spin on a pole?” “can you wear whatever you want?” and even “can you explain taxes?”

TikTok makes it difficult to maneuver the platform and find sustainable income

Kennedy Spaulding, @soswagkenny on TikTok, worked in clubs as an exotic dancer before the pandemic hit. She then turned to online sex work in 2020.

“I tried to continue dancing, but the market was oversaturated as a lot of individuals were left jobless and sought out sex work as a lucrative alternative. OnlyFans was booming and I will say, the rewards were plenty,” she wrote. 

While Spaulding doesn’t exclusively post about sex work, she has still noticed TikTok’s restrictions and trends towards censorship. “TikTok’s new policy has somewhat effected [sic] my online presence in the sense that I wasn’t able to promote sex work,” Spaulding said about the new rules.

“Still, I posted all my unfiltered content that I normally would, and it resulted in being shadowbanned.”

Spaulding has since moved away from online sex work to pursue a career in art, which she said she is most passionate about. In her Etsy store “Playswithknifes” she sells resin accessories.

The glittery rolling trays, ashtrays, and recently added “love” paddles are filled with glitter and a y2k sensibility. She uses her TikTok to show new additions to the Etsy store.


shop for these on my etsy !! ##420friendy ##etsy ##supportsmallbusiness ##smallbusinesscheck ##fyp ##resin ##art

♬ i feel kinda freeee – Sam Craft

To promote the store, which TikTok’s trends and new rules currently also limit, the platform will need to change.

“I believe TikTok and other platforms could improve for sex workers by being more inclusive of advertising,” Spaulding said.

“They could do so by not censoring links or deleting videos that promote the industry.” She adds: “as long as the actual content itself is censored, or shown to the right audience, I see no reason we sex workers shouldn’t be able to promote our content!”


The stigma around sex work and stripping on TikTok must be combatted

Hopscotch also has ideas on how to improve the online experience for sex workers.

“Rather than banning creators for sex work, what TikTok could be doing is implementing creator options to their platform that allows us to restrict our TikTok audience by age.”


TODAYS LESSON: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF BABIES. 🧚‍♀️✨ ##positivity ##striptok ##lifelessons ##fairygodmother ##SwitchTheChobaniFlip ##fyp

♬ original sound – SkyHopscotch

She’s also adamant about non-glamorizing sex work. “I cannot fathom the younger generation idealizing the sex industry,” Hopscotch wrote.

“TikTok would be very wise to implement age restriction software, to limit children from seeing what us sex workers are posting.”


She knows that the sex industry isn’t going anywhere. “But there is absolutely no reason that children should be looking up to the lifestyle. Many of us do this because we HAVE to do this job, because of systematic inequality,” she said.


Welcome to the drop kick Murphy’s. ##guessmyzodiacsign ##zodiac ##alt

♬ Guess your zodiac – Jojo Colón

Right now, it looks like online platforms are only shrinking the spaces available to sex workers.

With not only TikTok but also Instagram restricting the content of adult entertainers and the introduction of more internet censorship laws such as SISEA, the internet is seemingly becoming less and less sex-positive.

Luckily, there are movements working against this censorship. With sex work discourse flourishing on Twitter, and petitions against further regulations being signed by the thousands, we might get back onto the free informational highway the internet was intended to be.

Stop the Unnecessary Censorship of Sex Workers On TikTok