Trigger Warning: Article mentions Eating Disorders
Tik Tok has been a platform that many have turned to for comfort over the past year. However, the social media site has also seen its fair share of scandal and controversy during this time. One recent source of debate has been over videos that focus on eating habits. Many users have created videos which share their daily meals, their fitness journeys and some create videos to promote diet culture.
For many who use the video-sharing platform, these videos can be a source of anxiety and discomfort, for example, some videos on the site document ‘thinspiration’ as inspiration for those trying to lose weight. This content can be extremely triggering for those who suffer with eating disorders and thus, has been a hot topic of debate.
The diet-culture on Tik Tok had gotten out of hand
One of the ways that people have resisted these ‘diet-centred’ videos has been by creating ‘Eat with Me’ content. ‘Eat with Me’ is a video trend where individuals film themselves consuming a meal to encourage others to duet it and eat satisfying, sustaining meals themselves. The idea was created by 18-year-old Tik Tok user Sara Sadok, as she believed that the diet-culture on Tik Tok had gotten out of hand. In an interview with Huffington Post, Sara stated “There are so many videos showing people how to lose an absurd amount of weight in a small amount of time. It is potentially triggering content. It’s especially heart-breaking to see young kids thinking that they need to lose weight in order to look like the man or woman in the video”. Sadok also recognised the harmful potential of these videos as some of her loved ones have suffered with eating disorders in the past.
having someone with you to take that first bite, may be the help that they need
In Sadok’s videos, she uses positive affirmations to encourage others to eat their meals, no matter how hard that may be. For many who struggle with disordered eating behaviours, eating a meal can be an extremely daunting task and having someone with you to take that first bite, may be the help that they need. One of Sara’s Tik Toks reads: “I’ll take the first bite to make it a little less intimidating for you, and you can have your first bite after, OK?”.
The response to Sara’s Tik Toks has been immense, with countless people duetting her videos as they eat their meals. One user commented “You are an angel?? thanking you on behalf of myself and many other people who struggle with food. Sometimes this is all we need”. Some users have even begun to make their own ‘Eat with Me’ videos, thanks to inspiration from Sara’s content.
some have warned that the content itself could also function as a trigger for those who struggle with their eating habits
However, some have also criticised these videos. Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Eating Disorder therapist Beth Hoffman has warned viewers that these videos are not a replacement for real, professional treatment and therapy. Whilst it is great to encourage everyone in their recovery process, receiving professional help is an important aspect of this which should not be forgotten.
Additionally, some have warned that the content itself could also function as a trigger for those who struggle with their eating habits. It can also create a dialogue that recovering from an eating disorder is an easy process, where all you have to do is eat more. In reality, it is far more complicated than that and these videos may run the risk of downplaying seriousness of the illness.
Ultimately, whilst the beneficial or harmful elements of these videos can be debated, it is important that the dialogue of eating disorders continues to circulate. It is an illness that is easy to overlook and creating the conversation is of utmost importance, especially during a pandemic when many mental health struggles have been exasperated. Sara’s content may not be a substitute for professional help and advice, but they contribute to this conversation and that should not be ignored.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.