The TikTok Beauty Trend That Does More Harm Than Good

When it comes to trends, TikTok is at the forefront these days. All you need is one trend to go viral on the social media platform, and it goes viral everywhere across the globe. That's what happens when people let loose and create their own videos sharing their own two cents on pretty much everything.

One of the most recent beauty trends on TikTok is "snatched." While the word "snatched" technically means to grab something quickly, that's not how it's being used on TikTok. Instead, it's used as a hashtag for videos or images of women conforming to a certain beauty ideal or standard. Sometimes, the label "snatched" will be applied to a small waist, taught skin, lifted brows, or enhanced cheekbones, whether they're natural, augmented, or filtered from an app. Considering the unrealistic beauty standards we all face, the last thing we need is a trend that allows for a space where body parts are made smaller, "perfected," and are celebrated for it. Yet here we are.

But "snatched" isn't just harmful in how it contributes to the toxic concept of "ideal" body types. It has also been taken from the Black and LGBTQ+ communities where it was used as a compliment for how someone looks — making it, in this usage, not just completely twisted but a far cry from how it should be used. Let's dig further into both these issues and unpack just how problematic "snatched" is.

It's linguistic appropriation

Although this isn't the first time that vernacular from marginalized groups has been appropriated, nor will it be the last, it doesn't make it right. A perfect example of linguistic appropriation came about when Taylor Swift took up the term "squad goals" in the mid-2010s despite its roots being in the Black community to express feelings of Black camaraderie, per Vice. About the same time, "on fleek" and twerking were also being appropriated by white people. Not a good look for white folks and a total slap in the face to the Black community. 

"Black language, African American Vernacular English, or African American language is a coded language that's used within our community to communicate certain ideas, but it's also a language that is kind of protected from dominant culture," transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and associate professor at Michigan State University Dr. April Baker-Bell tells Well + Good. "Usually, when dominant culture starts using some of the terms that we develop in-house, so to speak, it loses its value within our own community."

Like all forms of cultural appropriation, another issue with linguistic appropriation is that something is taken from one community that doesn't receive credit for it, and is then whitewashed and manipulated to mean something else. This is doubly the case with "snatched." Being used outside the community devalues the phrase, and it's also being misused because the word is meant as a compliment, not as a hashtag to promote unrealistic body standards.

It's setting unrealistic body goals

Fighting against everything that's thrown our way in regard to what someone should or shouldn't look like feels like an uphill battle, but it's a battle worth fighting. According to a 2018 Ipsos survey, 79% of U.S. adults are sometimes unhappy with their bodies; 37% feel dissatisfied looking in the mirror, and 32% when on the beach in a bathing suit. The same survey also found that 30% of people would give up pizza, alcohol, or social media just so they could wake up the next morning with the "perfect" body. Nothing should be worth the sacrifice of pizza, but sadly that's where our culture is when it comes to body ideals and trying to attain them.

The "snatched" trend plays right into this by treating the human body like a chunk of clay that can be easily molded into what one thinks perfection is. It's not just dangerous for cisgender people, but for non-binary and trans folks already dealing with severe body image issues. According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, 23% of gender-expansive people report diet restricting and 12.9% report engaging in binge episodes.

No matter how you slice it, using the word "snatched" in the way it's being used on TikTok is cruel. As much as it may seem fun to be trendy and keep up with what social media has declared cool, this is a trend you're better off skipping.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).