What To Know About Body Checking

Our era of insecurity has led many of us to have the same reaction upon seeing our reflection. Fix your hair, straighten your shirt, and maybe end up sucking in your gut a bit. This instinct to shrink ourselves and blend in is harmful enough on its own, but social media has offered a whole new way for these habits to be shared and spread.


After all, what are our front-facing phone cameras but tiny mirrors? These micro-adjustments are now taking place in videos, and the harm is only spread when they're shared.

Dubbed "body checking," this new trend is characterized by "compulsive monitoring of your body shape, size, [and] appearance," according to a dietitian for Yahoo! Life. By uploading videos of their checks online, users can keep a record of how their body is changing over time. This hyper-focus on weight and appearance can, according to Very Well Mind, exacerbate disordered eating behaviors and low self-esteem ... and, when posted online, inspire others to adopt similar habits.

Body checking has become a staple of social media

Body checking has especially exploded on TikTok, where users are known for posting lifestyle content and dances. In going about their days or showing off new moves, some content creators will document every angle of their body, subtly checking for changes. Trends like "mewing" hope to accentuate your jawline and lead to sharper features. With the popularity of social media, we're becoming accustomed to looking at ourselves more and more — and experts say this could be a problem. A psychologist shared with Dazed Digital that "continuous negative thoughts about our bodies ... take up a lot of mental capacity which negatively impacts our ability to concentrate or think clearly."


Despite its harmful impacts, body checking runs rampant on the short-form video platform, and is covert with its perpetuation of harmful ideals. "Disordered eating is always lurking in the shadow of your psyche, waiting for the perfect moment to get you," a creator told Nylon. "Videos like these are exactly that perfect moment."

The dangerous trend is being called out

Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning against this harmful habit. Some TikTok users have dedicated their platforms to calling out body checks and rewriting the narrative surrounding diet culture. Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian with over 600,000 followers on the platform, frequently posts "reviews" of videos following TikTok's popular "What I Eat in a Day" trend. She calls out hidden body checking in creators' content and helps her followers to combat food myths and insecurities.


Meanwhile, the #BodyChecking section of TikTok isn't filled with creators participating in the harmful behavior. Rather, many have begun posting videos under the hashtag to help dismantle the practice. "My body changes every day. Every day it looks different!" shared one poster. "There's no point looking in the mirror as soon as you wake up and then judging it."

Hopefully, body neutrality and self-love will continue to creep in and take over body checking's place on the platform. Viral influencer Spencer Barbosa shared a dancing mirror video which will hopefully usher in the new trend. Her caption put it perfectly: "One thing I'm leaving in 2022 is ... letting my body image decide if I'm gonna have a good day or not."