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‘Fatphobic’ TikTok trend is under fire for encouraging body shaming

TextAlex Peters

People are calling out the ‘chubby face’ filter

A TikTok trend centred around a new filter effect is being called out for body shaming and fatphobia. 

Known as the ‘chubby face’ filter, the effect gives users the appearance of a fuller face and people have been using it to imagine what they would look like if they were at a higher weight, before reverting back to their original appearance seemingly relieved to be “thinner” again. Many of the videos also are accompanied by captions stating how the user’s self-esteem increased after the filter was taken off again.

The trend has come under fire from many, who are hurt by the fatphobia involved in the videos and having their facial features be seemingly made fun of. “I hate this trend so much,” Moira Bryson AKA @mannequindude a 20-year-old TikToker from LA wrote. “Why are you so afraid to have a face like mine? Why do you all hate my face shape sooo much…It fucking hurts to see you’re so hated.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, make-up artist Shania criticised the trend writing, “not a tiktok filter to make ur face fat so you can boost ur confidence when u take the filter off. lol. LOL” The tweet has over 9K likes with many people in the comments calling for empathy and body positivity from the social platform. 

“This actually makes me so mad because my whole life i've been struggling with face fat and to see people acting like once you have it off, you're pretty it's just pretty triggering,” commented @hotsommarnights. 

According to TikTok, the effect was only supposed to be available in certain markets, such as East, West, and South Africa and was released in the UK accidentally. “Healthy, filled-out cheeks are perceived differently in different cultures and markets,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We have a review process in place wherein our global team reviews filters and effects that we think would be popular and appropriate in specific markets/local regions.” It has since been removed in the UK.

Unlike this new trend, TikTok has in the past encouraged body positivity and self-love. A trend earlier this year saw users sharing historical images and works of art that highlight the features they are insecure about, from strong noses to rosy cheeks, and show that those same features have long been celebrated and thought of as beautiful. Not only that, but they are strong connections to our history and the legacy of our ancestors.

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