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The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

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Opinion: There’s an Ugly Truth Behind ‘Looksmaxxing’

TikTok’s new self-improvement trend is doing more harm than good.
Graphic by Evan Bartlett and Brandon Purdy

Have you heard the story of Narcissus? In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a gorgeous man, so beautiful that he eventually was only attracted to himself. One day he saw his reflection in the river, and mesmerized, he placed his face closer to the body of water. Eventually, he drowned.
Many people today aspire to be like Narcissus, whether they know it or not. They want to luxuriate in a stronger image of themselves. But was the echoing reflection of a river a curse to humanity? Or was it, as many people today seem to believe, a blessing that brought us a mirror to reflect what we could look like?

Today the river is the cell phone staring back at us. Many have become so hyper-fixated on good looks that they’re “mewing” and smashing their bones to get a jawline that resembles that of the handsome Jordan Barrett. Or they may be looking at their own body and comparing it to a supermodel like Adriana Lima. These people have become so prevalent that a community has formed around looking better: Looksmaxxing.
The word “Looksmaxxing” contains its definition: to maximize your looks. In other words, it’s the practice of enhancing one’s physical appearance through any means, often to maximize attractiveness and improve one’s self-esteem. Looksmaxxing is rooted in the belief that boosting one’s appearance can lead to more confidence, social acceptance, and more opportunities in many aspects of life.
Some argue it’s a form of self-improvement and self-discipline. Many looksmaxxing/self-improvement content creators such as alim_kh0, Marcos Phillip, and Austin Dunham promote exercise and diets to help with looks. Some promote facial exercises, and a certain tongue posture, called “mewing,” which involves keeping your tongue at the roof of your mouth and keeping it closed to promote a stronger jawline and better nose breathing. Globally, mewing has become a hot trend around the internet, though it’s getting ridiculed just as much as it is praised.
The entire community is built on the foundations of subjective truth and criticism of one’s health and image. Though its members swear they will do anything they can to help and support you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle for your body, you will indeed be called unattractive for certain aspects of your body.
So while, on the surface, this seems like a simple community of people who want to have self-growth and improve their image, as we go deeper into the iceberg, the darker side becomes more apparent, revealing extreme practices and ideologies. Sexism, racism, colorism, xenophobia, eating disorders, and many others rear their ugly heads once you look deeper. The concept of looksmaxxing has existed since 2015, originating in manospheric forums, and websites where many members promote toxic masculinity and misogyny. This corrupted past still creeps its toes into modern-day TikTok, where young men and women alike end up asking the wrong people online about the issues of their facial and physical appearances.
Looksmaxxing discussions may even include double standards regarding beauty expectations for men and women. Societal norms cause different pressures on individuals based on their sex. It forces women to live up to certain beauty standards that men are exempt from. It dictates what men and women can look like, and claims that women will always choose the six-foot guy with a positive-canthal tilt, blue eyes, a sharp jawline, and a muscular frame. As for women, it’s assumed men will only choose a woman with a slim-hourglass body, having little to no body fat. This causes many women to develop eating disorders due to poor body image and eating restrictions.

These standards are so toxic that if either fails to appeal to that standard, members of the rabid looksmaxing community would tell the offender to “ropemaxx,” an expression telling someone to commit suicide.
This trend has also prompted people to create accounts to promote “Aryan supremacy,” trying to prove that those with lighter skin are more attractive genetically and physically. They often compare those with dark skin from areas of poverty to those who are of lighter skin from areas of wealth, cherry-picking examples to justify their racism.  These irresponsible online discussions about looks and attractiveness end up reinforcing harmful racial stereotypes, causing people online to  resent their own race or ethnicity. In fact, the push for whiteness as beauty has created the term “racemaxxing.”
The most ironic part of this whole trend is that the people on these accounts don’t ever show their faces. Most accounts seem like baits for attention, and others are just plain-out racist. However, some members of the community have fought back against these hideous sentiments, trying to shift the group’s ideals toward the positive. They want to use the group to inspire others to improve themselves, love themselves, and even be comfortable laughing at themselves.
This positive shift has been felt by many who have been able to improve their lifestyles and how they view themselves. The idea of looksmaxxing should be available to anyone trying to improve their image. When it comes to trying to change certain aspects of ourselves, we should always approach it with self-love rather than self-obsession or hatred. Everyone has the chance to improve their lives if they truly wish to and feel great about themselves, especially without discriminating ideologies. If an internet trend is ever telling you to change what makes you original, or it forces you into a box to fit gender or racial stereotype, it is much uglier than anything else could ever be.

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About the Contributors
Tyler Pierre
Writing provides an escape when reality becomes too complex. That’s why Tyler enjoys writing, and his thoughts are always festering with creativity regarding what to write. He is also a big fan of Niru Kajitsu, a well-known Vocaloid producer. In his second year working for Wingspan, he plans on writing articles about controversial topics.
Abigail Carsner
Abigail Carsner, Graphics Editor
Abigail has always had a talent for writing. From a young age, Abigail could write like there was no tomorrow. She loves it. This is her second year on the Wingspan. She is a fan of film, art, literature, and music. She enjoys writing music-related articles, either it being about a certain genre or music news. Abigail also likes to write creative works, play guitar, and draw. When she is older, Abigail either wants to be a musician or a writer.

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    RubenMar 1, 2024 at 10:30 am

    Life changing.