Numerous trends and challenges pop up, some are funny and inspiring, while others are downright dangerous and damaging. For instance, the “leggings legs” trend gained momentum toward the end of last year and has now been deemed “toxic”. Enough so, that TikTok has banned videos with related content.

The “leggings legs” trend has caused controversy among TikTok users, causing the platform to face backlash from users. The “leggings legs” trend is as bizarre as its name. Essentially, the trend is for young girls to stand in front of the camera, pointing out the flaws in their bodies. Specifically, whether or not they have “leggings” legs. Making statements about how their legs don’t look “good” in athleticwear.

Leggings Legs” Trend Faces Controversy

The “leggings legs” trend gained popularity last year but has since faced scrutiny. Facing backlash for promoting body image issues in young girls and women. Users of the platform like @emilyxpearl posted a video in response. She stated, “Do we understand that there are 15-year-old girls that wear leggings every single day that now feel that they cannot wear leggings because they don’t have legging legs… the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Meanwhile, Steph Claire Smith, Australian Model has called the “leggings legs” trend both “disappointing” and “toxic.” She explained, “I remember being obsessed with having a thigh gap. I remember it driving me insane. Being angry at my genetics, basically, and losing anything that I had on my legs just to have a friggin’ gap because social media told me that that was what was attractive.”

“And now there is a trend: legging legs. If you have legs, and you’ve got a pair of leggings on, you’ve got legging legs. Don’t worry what the internet is freaking saying. I am so, so done, so done, with these stupid trends that are so, so toxic and so damaging.” She continued.

Officials Agree

It seems that experts agree with user regarding the damaging effects of the “leggings legs” challenge. Therapist Holly Essler called it “repulsing“. “This is disgusting. Do not let social media tell your body that it is a trend. If you have a body and you have leggings, you have legging legs.” She said.

Luckily, it seems that TikTok heard concerns from users because they’ve now banned videos and content related to the “leggings legs” trend. A spokesperson for TikTok Australia confirmed the platforms decision during an interview. “When people search for #legginglegs or content related to eating disorders, they are shown a pop-up with a link to the Butterfly Foundation. TikTok is an inclusive and body-positive environment and we do not allow content that depicts, promotes, normalizes or glorifies eating disorders.” They explained.

The Butterfly foundation is an organization that helps those who’ve been impacted by eating disorders and body image issues. According to a poll by The Butterfly Foundation, nearly have of youth, age 12-18 is “dissatisfied” with their bodies, attributing the feelings to pressure from peers on social media.

Fighting the “Leggings Legs” Challenge

Head of communication at the Butterfly Foundation, Melissa Wilton, stated it’s “vital that we combat this rhetoric and encourage people to see themselves as a whole being. Rather than just their appearance and body size.”

“These appearance-based trends on social media can be extremely dangerous as they portray a very narrow ideal of beauty and suggest that the perfect body exists. While also enforcing the belief that your appearance or body is what makes you worthy,” she said. “Research shows that the more a person internalizes these unrealistic body and appearance ideals, the more likely they are to experience body dissatisfaction which can lead to the development of disordered eating and eating disorders.”

In 2021, TikTok added features to help raise awareness and combat eating disorders. “Starting this week, when a user searches for #edrecovery #proana or other phrases related to eating disorders, we’ll provide access to the BEAT Helpline where they can find help, support, and information about treatment options. We’ll also provide tips we developed with eating disorders experts on how to identify negative self-talk, think about one’s own positive attributes and strengths, or support a friend who may be struggling,” stated an official TikTok blog. YouTube has also implemented practices that prohibit content encouraging “imitable behavior” for “at-risk viewers.” Videos include those of people restricting calories, or any content that promotes “disordered eating“. The platform also offers mental health resources to accompany those videos. Moreover, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta also provides users with access to resources and support for those struggling with body image issues.

Better than the “Leggings Legs” Trend

While we don’t allow content that promotes or encourages self-harm and eating disorders, we do allow people to share their own experiences and journeys around self-image and body acceptance.” Meta disclosed in a blog post from 2021. “We know that these stories can prompt important conversations and provide community support but can also be triggering for some. To address this, when someone tries to search for or share self-harm related content, we currently blur potentially triggering images and point people to helpful resources.”

While the “leggings legs” trend and others like the ‘Pod Challenge‘, or blackout challenge, have had detrimental effects on the well-being of social media users, there have been some incredibly wholesome and uplifting challenges as well. For example, Colgate created the #MakeMomSmile trend. Celebrating Mother’s Day by encouraging users to “make your mother or mother-figure in your life smile“. Meanwhile brands like Aerie have partnered with Social Media Influencers in a #AerieREALPositivity challenge, in which the audience is asked to share 3 things for which they are grateful. Accompanied by a positive statement that they would hope the world knows.

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