A Disorder in Disguise: How TikTok Exploits Dependence on Social Groupings in Teen Female Weightlifters through Glamorizing Eating Disorders

Allyson Najera

Irvine Valley College


Evolutionary adaptation has been manipulated through social media companies and has developed generations of eating disorders (ED) through engulfing a vulnerable community right under our noses. In our world today, we are highly influenced by those who surround us. The brain continues to grow until the age of 25, and our social environment has a big impact on our brain throughout the adolescent years. It encourages thoughts and behaviors that help form a foundation for the rest of an individual’s life. With social media becoming a focal model of our socialization environment, our dependence on social groupings heightens the negative effects on mental health that come from social media use. As a powerful entity that has kept our species surviving, our homeostasis motives have had the intention of keeping ourselves at a stable state to survive and reproduce, but due to technological advances, these motives have also created a disaster for teen female weightlifters. EDs hold a strong stigmatization, and there is a large unawareness of this mental health problem. Social media provides a platform for this disorder to grow and strengthen a community that supports an unhealthy lifestyle that can have negative physical and mental effects for years. Female teens are 90% more likely to have EDs than teen male teens because of the social pressures seen throughout history and even to this day to fit a specific physical criteria (Polaris Teen Center). This weightlifting group has the highest potential to get an ED, because sports focus on physical appearance, diet, and constant body change through efforts of cutting and bulking (Polaris Teen Center). TikTok is the second most popular social networking platform in the U.S. from Fall 2012 to Fall 2021, and proves to be a significant player in contributing to ED advancement through socialization in teen female weightlifters (Statistia). TikTok takes advantage of young female weightlifters’ social grouping reliance by fostering eating problems. This is a problem because TikTok is generating social divisions and group pressure through filter bubbles, creating harmful mental consequences for past, current, and future generations of female teen weightlifters, and furthering stigmatization of seeking help for EDs. Social group reliance may be seen in our ancestors, currently in our social institutions, and in the rewired socialization model via TikTok. To address this issue, governments should pass legislation that allows greater control over private social media corporations, to uncover the logistics behind algorithmic methods, and educate weightlifting users about mental health and resources when keywords related to EDs are searched on social media platforms.

Defining the Issue

As previously introduced, human dependence on social gatherings has been used by private companies owning Tiktok to profit from using pro-ED media to teen female weightlifters. TikTok’s usage of adaptive mechanisms is a problem that has amplified ED beliefs and tendencies through establishing social groupings and group pressure created through filter bubbles, negative mental impacts on generations of individuals, and stigmatization of seeking help for EDs.

With new technological advancements in our world being created everyday, there are many lasting impacts these advancements have on various communities through filter bubbles. In our capitalistic society, the craving for profit and power often overpowers other motives, and can be seen with social media platforms like TikTok. The filter bubble, which is designed to increase engagement and screen time with social media platforms that translate into profit for these platforms. Creator of the term filter bubble, Eli Parsier states that the social media platforms “shape how groups of people interact” by showing individuals media that are to their preference only, creating a social divide between them and those who have differing perspectives (Schiffer). By grouping individuals by political, social and physical preferences, there is an increase in confirmation bias, extreme unhealthy actions about health (Holocene). This can be seen through the different “FYP” (For You Page) individuals have on TikTok, which is based on their interaction with represented media. Constantly being affirmed of individual bias and having what feels like a “community” back up an individual’s viewpoint that consists of other individuals interacting on the same content you like. There is less of an inclination to have an open mindset to see other perspectives, not only online, but in the real world. The information provided on TikTok is not always accurate or fact checked. With communities centered around this information, there are dangers to interacting with this media that can impact users’ mental and physical well-being, such as the pro-ED media. Therefore, individuals constantly presented with pro-ED media disguised as “weightlifting” or “self-improvement” media are less inclined to seek help, and more inclined to continue their disorder. In a study to see the relationship with adolescents and young adult females exposed to media that emphasized ED behaviors and mental health, 84% of the participants self-reported symptoms of an ED (Fitzsimmons-Craft). Being that pro-ED online terms searched on Google occur about 13 million times annually, and that youth have easy access to this media across the globe, engagement with this content is a direct indicator of facilitating ED behaviors and thoughts to adolescents (Fitzsimmons-Craft). These social groupings through filter bubbles play a critical role in directly influencing teen female weightlifters through constantly exposing the pro-ED media by manipulating a critical part in our evolutionary adaptations: socialization.

Through providing unhealthy information through media disguised as innocent hashtags or inspirational media from “influencers”, TikTok has created a platform that has a large potential to negatively influence teen female weightlifters mental health. Weightlifting media, such as “fitspiration” images, that are images designed to inspire viewers to eat healthier and exercise, or microblog viewing, which is social media pages on which “influencers” share small updated content with followers featuring nutritional and exercises-related content, have been shown to be significantly positively associated with disordered eating (Fitzsimmons-Craft). TikTok exploits human social dependency by enabling social pressure so that there is no engagement or interaction with media that contradicts the beliefs of the teen female weightlifters’ social group, which equates to profit. Tiktok is successful in fulfilling their purpose of gaining profit as a company by piggybacking teen female weightlifters which is a group of individuals highly susceptible to social pressures. Teen females are inclined to interact with weightlifting media because it’s their passion, but what is done without their awareness is they’re signing up to pro-ED media by these disguised tactics from the platform TikTok to gain more profit. Another example of disguised unhealthy media that establishes a furthering of negative health impacts that manipulate our social dependency would be the “#cheat meal” tag. This tag is the media that presents individuals who consume large amounts of food on designated days/times of the week. Found in a study that identified the problematic nature of cheat meals, the body-related information displayed in the #cheatmeal tag is also particularly relevant to current discussion of muscularity-oriented disorder eating, as it provides evidence for a direct relationship between the pursuit of muscularity and specific rule-driven and goal-oriented dietary behaviors (Pila). As a result, these permissive thoughts about how cheat meals can help in the pursuit of the muscular ideal may help mitigate the affective distress felt during excessive and uncontrolled meal consumption, distinguishing these episodes from the binge/compensatory behaviors seen in typical conceptualizations of disordered eating (Pila). The study’s results show that cheat meals are welcomed, as long as they are “earned” and rewarded for going hours of not consuming food prior, and may even be deemed goal-oriented in the quest of muscularity, suggesting underlying illness in this practice, posing serious issues (Pila). With clear psychological correlations with dietary practice in the media, TikTok fails to raise awareness of EDs, resources, and simply generates a social “norm” that has lasting negative mental health effects on the teen female weightlifting community exposed to this media. This media is constantly singled out due to their vulnerable age, sport, and gender.

TikTok has established a platform that can negatively affect young female weightlifters by stigmatizing seeking help for EDs, by disguising hazardous material as harmless hashtags or inspiring media from “influencers”. Within the study previously mentioned, it was found that 84% of adolescents and young adult females exposed to pro-ED media had self-reported symptoms consistent with a clinical/subclinical ED. The most prevalent treatment hurdles were the belief that the problem was insignificant and that one should assist themselves. Most participants agreed that seeking help through contacting individuals through online platforms for support out of the ED was a smart option (Fitzsimmons-Craft). Through seeking help on social media platforms that have previously endorsed ED thoughts and tendencies because pro-ED media is masked as normal media, rather than going to medical doctors, it is more than likely that individuals suffering from an ED won’t be provided with the right support and just be provided information that enables their unhealthy mindset (Fitzsimmons-Craft). Overall ED behaviors are already consistent with tendencies of having difficulty admitting to having it. With this platform, it has a greater ability to rationalize individuals with ED behaviors and tendencies, get them farther away from receiving the support they need and glorify their unhealthy habits. It is clear that with the majority in the study seeking technology as their main option for therapy, it shows how ED tendencies are intertwining with social manipulation, to continue this trend of keeping ED as a disorder that is a “norm” for self-improvement. By using social inclinations to push users to follow along with those in their community, TikTok provides a safe space for an ED to flourish and not receive support to end it.

In conclusion, it is clear that TikTok has been building off ED by targeting individuals who are more susceptible to following these behaviors, and normalizing these disorders as harmless media that promotes self growth through utilizing the social dependency component we as a species have developed over time.

Socialization for Humans: Past, Present and Future

As social beings, humans have a centered way of life, with socialization being a prime factor for our species’ success. This is seen in the focus on collaboration and teamwork efforts in social groupings, such as those provided by family, friends, school peers, and vocational work. This dependence of social groups can be observed in our ancestors, presently with our social institutions, and rewired socialization models through social media platforms like TikTok, facilitating the potential for ED in the teen female weightlifting community. To better understand the ways TikTok has exploited this, first it has been established how ED, especially in weightlifting teen females, are an example of an adaptation by humans to social groupings.

An ED is defined as a mental disorder that is unlike any other mental health illness, as sociocultural variables play a significant part in the development of them, and genes (Friero Padín). Body dissatisfaction has been demonstrated to precede the emergence of ED in young women, and it is a strong predictor (Friero Padín). There is a widespread misperception that ED is a choice. ED are significant and frequently deadly illnesses characterized by substantial disruptions in people’s eating practices, as well as related thoughts and emotions. A preoccupation may also indicate an EDs with food, body weight, or appearance (NIH). These EDs include binge ED, anorexia nervosa, riminativation disorder, bulimia nervosa, binge ED, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Throughout history, there have been many models and theories formulated to explain the evolution behind these EDs, which all pertain to social and genetic backgrounds. The reproductive suppression hypothesis, which includes the parental manipulation model and kin selection theory, sexual competition hypothesis and flee famine hypothesis. All these models share a common element: EDs are created through responding to a social and/or hormonal change, which the mind considers a “threat” (Kardum). As seen through all species, we all share one common goal of surviving and continuing our species. With changing environments, new adaptive reactions are enabled to fulfill this motivation and be successful in achieving fitness. With this being said, many evolved mechanisms are adaptive reactions translated as dysfunctions throughout history. An example would be having a fever. Its symptoms are not favorable, including headache, chills, muscle aches, weakness, etc. But these symptoms are actually due to the body trying to combat infection (Kardum). Similar to fevers, adaptive mechanisms even include mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and EDs (Kardum). Many females in their teens undergo hormonal changes due to puberty, and social changes due to entering new school environments. With change, the mind immediately attempts to mediate the shift away from homeostasis, often resulting in tendencies that can have negative effects, but generally a positive intention. When there is a lack of correlation between reaction and circumstance, it is a clear indication of a negative dysfunction of a psychological system with inappropriate intensity and length, such as EDs. With that in mind, teen females are susceptible to EDs, since the weightlifting sport is focused on body physique, tracking diet, and constant weight changes. This results in many similar mental effects as EDs, such as body dysmorphia, constant dissatisfaction with the body and preoccupation with food. These characteristics formulate a sport that can further ED thoughts and tendencies. It is clear that female teen weightlifters can be more susceptible to EDs.

Social group dependency is an adaptation that has flourished under changing environments and food security over time to fulfill reproductive success. According to research published in the journal Nature, when humans’ primate ancestors shifted from searching for food at night (to utilize darkness as protection) to carrying out its functions during the day, being gregarious became a critical strength (Cohut).. All factors that promote reproduction are positively influenced through socialization, such as less negative thoughts correlated with isolation, greater ability to get food, and ability to adapt physiologically, physically and behaviorally to extremely altered environments (Scheun). Human primate ancestors lived primarily in communities called “bands” or “troops” where there was a social hierarchy in place including leadership and were active during the day (Larson). Examples of crucial social groupings that fulfill the social grouping dependence adaptation of human primate ancestors would be seen through chimpanzees, with large social groups that consist of multi-male and multi-female groupings, and a core structure of bonded males with friendships that last for a lifetime (Larson). Through these groupings, there is greater success in finding food, further utilization of tools, ability to expand territory, and positive mental influence through physical actions that provide emotional support, such as hugging, kissing and even mourning the death of loved ones, which ultimately leads to heightened reproduction success. As brain size and cranial capacity increased with evolving human ancestors, mental health, which is emotional and social wellbeing, has been largely impacted by social group dependency (Gorman). Another social grouping that tends to our social dependency and is valuable and seen through our ancestors, would be the mother and child relationship. There are longer gestation periods that enable a strong bond between the mother and child (Larson). This social group enables a furtherment of reproduction successes, because the mother teaches the cultural tendencies and how to survive. When this social grouping is unable to be met due to the mother being absent, there is still social adaptation to meet this need for social dependency, which is alloparenting. Alloparenting occurs when the mother is absent or unable to support her infant, and the silverback gorilla takes the place of the mother (Larson). It is clear that humans’ primate ancestors have become dependent on social groupings because of the positive influence it has on the factors that progress reproductive success. As past non-human primates evolve into forms that align with today’s current human species, this social group dependency only grows, proving to be successful for Homo Erectus and Neanderthals survival and adaptation to environments with direct examples of community success like Terra Amata, France (Larson). With social environments evolving into mainly central based wandering and settling in closer proximity to one another, individuals were had greater success in manipulating environment to their species survivals advantage, through creating new forms on technology such as acheulean tools and mousterian tools, build more stable dwelling structures, trade, and utilizing fire (Larson). Social groupings have been embedded in our species history and as our species evolved this developing dependency has remained consistent even today.

Our present social institutions abide by human social group dependency. Throughout history, it is seen that social groupings have progressed our advancements in all realms of the world with new discoveries, unraveling the past, and advancing our knowledge to new heights. As seen with human primate ancestors, food availability and environment are two critical factors that impact our ability to continue our species. Social grouping has allowed humans to use food availability and environment to their advantage, and has allowed our society to be successful in establishing structured social institutions that keep order and advance opportunities. There are various examples of this social dependency adaptation that has enhanced our world today and is in place today. Nations employ their schooling systems to educate youth about their place in society, how to socialize, and learn the social standards they will use for the rest of their life including the need for family relationships. This is the first mode of socializing and provides the tools to survive through culturing them, etc. Social institutions today have been shaped by factors that all uncover the value humans hold in social groupings, such as struggle to find stability with those in social power throughout history, the location we decide to live, foods we decide to eat based on our cultural backgrounds, and technological advancements created through building on prior discoveries and utilizing resources by multiple people. Overall, it is clear that humans’ primate ancestors’ adaptation to social grouping dependency has been intertwined in all aspects of our world today, especially through social institutions.

Social group dependency is evident and utilized in our rewired social environment on social media sites such as TikTok. With the world today, new technological advancements have taken over much of our world, and platforms that appease the social grouping dependency for humans are of the most successful, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. By rewiring the main social model to focus on appearance and less physical interaction, TikTok has been able to use this evolutionary adaptation to their advantage. Media on TikTok manipulates social grouping dependency of humans to reinforce ED thoughts and tendencies in the weightlifting teen female community. This happens primarily through establishing communities that reinforce negative social pressures that normalize severely distorted body image (body dysmorphia) and over obsession with appearance and diet.

Through normalizing drastically distorted body image, TikTok media manipulates human social grouping reliance in a way that supports ED ideas and tendencies in the weightlifting teen female community. With social media and a community focusing on physical appearance and diet, teen female weightlifters are bound to be exposed to pro-ED media due to filter bubbles. As mentioned before, filter bubbles enable misinformation to be spread and have communities built upon this misinformation that can further exacerbate mental health issues and normalize unhealthy symptoms to EDs, such as body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia is defined as a condition that causes individuals to become extremely concerned with body self-image, which can cause detrimental mental and physical health (Davis). Those experiencing body dysmorphia regularly face excessive self-consciousness. Because body dysmorphia comprises significant dissatisfaction with one’s physique and appearance, those who suffer from it may battle with an underlying ED. Almost serving as a pedestal for the disorder to advance, social media platforms abide to social fears by providing space for individuals suffering with body dysmorphia to connect and maintain this insecurity through normalizing it in the teen female weightlifting community. A clear example of this normalization and established communities that reinforce social pressures would be in Figure 1 and Figure 2 which is TikTok video by @marita.groven that showcases herself, a female weightlifter, engaging in a weightlifting activity, and the screen

Fig. 1 Female is weightlifting whilst motivational messages from others cross her mind and is framed on the left part of the TikTok video.

Fig. 2 Women experiencing body dysmorphia and only able to see a distorted version of herself within the mirror.

She fills up with positive comments from teen female weightlifters about her progress. But she is mentally consumed by thinking through all the positive feedback and even during the weightlifting activity, which is an image of a woman looking in the mirror seeing something that is the complete opposite of her actual size. There are countless TikTok videos that have the same purpose of spreading the “relatable” content through the weightlifting community and on TikTok. As it can be seen with the large amount of engagements through likes, shares and comments, there are many weightlifters going through the same mental struggle. Social groupings can provide emotional support and propel individuals to new heights. However, in this community, the continuous media regarding body dysmorphia, there is no intention to seek help, because it downplays the real issue by labeling the negative mental health symptom of ED as a “relatable” effect all weightlifters experience. Female teen weightlifters who constantly see this media are less inclined to search for resources to get them out of this mentality, and can even aim to have this mentality fit in with the rest of their peers. TikTok serves as a platform that provides social group support that is continuing an unhealthy mentality through social pressure, and completely erases the positive purpose of the evolutionary adaptation to social dependency for humans by leading individuals into a mental disorder that can cause death long term. This social dependency established in humans is used to benefit media platforms like TikTok in their purpose of profit, and decreases the likelihood of individuals searching for help and continuing in a negative mental state of an ED.

By standardizing the over-obsession with appearance and diet, TikTok media manipulates human social grouping reliance to support ED beliefs and inclinations in the weightlifting teen female community. EDs are evolutionarily linked to the internalization of social pressure caused by beauty standards in many societies, including the weightlifting community. The spread of these expanded aesthetic models on social media raises the danger of the development and maintenance of health issues, such as EDs. An example of the establishment of communities that prioritize social pressure would be the TikTok by @sienamancuso pictured in Figure 3 and Figure 4, which involves “what I eat in a day” media, which consist of “influencers sharing updates with followers to almost keep an agenda about the amount of calories intake, primarily healthy food consumed, and promote the diet by showcasing their body in the beginning of videos to get individuals to want to follow the same regime to look the same. With various TikToks that hold the same format, the supportive engagement by teen female weightlifters who interact with this media the most, indicate that these “influencers” clearly have a vulnerable audience who hope to be socially accepted. With this media, it provides a solution to feel

Fig. 3 Female Weightlifter influences users to follow her diet by showing her physique.

Fig. 4 Female Weightlifter documents her diet and macros through a “What I Eat in a Day” TikTok.

accepted, by providing the idea of following restrictive diets to attain the body image their community promotes positively. By linking the urge for social acceptance enabled by evolutionary adaptation to social dependency, and bringing solutions to changing physical appearance by dietary regulations, many teen females are often placed in filter bubbles that hold negative information that formulate mindsets that center around the need for abiding to guidelines placed by media on TikTok.

Another example of Tik Tok media normalizing symptoms of EDs, which progresses EDs in teen female weightlifters, would be the extreme bulking and cutting culture. In the weightlifting community, it is normal to go through phases of bulking, which is a period of eating in a strategic calorie surplus, which has an aim to increase muscle mass, and phases of cutting, which is a period of calorie deficit, to lose body fat while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible (Preiato). TikTok highlights this extreme culture through including before and after “progress” photos from cutting and bulking. In the TikTok video by @johnnybiggio pictured in Figure 5 and 6, a male weightlifter first shows his body and explains how he got to where he is physically through completing a “clean bulk” to reach the weight of 200 pounds through excessive methods of tracking diet and weight, weighing out, counting all macros, taking photos of every meal consumed, and tracking his weight everyday for 8 months. The engagement is primarily by weightlifters and indicates positive feedback through comments, likes and shares, endorsing Johnny’s dedication to keeping consistent with his goals, and completely disregarding the extreme efforts he took on that highly correlate with symptoms of an ED. Through TikTok, weightlifters are endorsed to go to excessive efforts to achieve a physical aesthetic, through the masking of a real ED as “progress” or “inspirational” media.

Fig. 5 Male Weightlifter on Tiktok shows his physique to promote his diet of “lean bulking”.

Fig. 6 Weightlifter on TikTok posts media about “lean bulking” by documenting every meal consumed, macros, and weight for 8 months.

Often media promotes that physical changes provide mental liberation from mental disorders, such as the TikTok video by @meiravwe pictured in Figure 7 and 8, where a female showcases her “before” lifting photos and titles them as “145 lbs and depressed”; the video continues through her lifting and ends with an “after” photo titled “135 lbs and strong”. This TikTok is again, like previous media, given positive feedback by a primary teen female weightlifting audience. This transformation is a feat, but there is an underlying issue that isn’t being addressed. How can enabling a physical appearance to change body weight through weightlifting shift a negative mentality to a positive mentality? With this mentality, it can lead to extreme efforts to change physically when an individual’s mental health isn’t all right. It can have detrimental mental effects, because it disregards the genuine values of individuals for who they are on the inside.

Fig. 7 Female weightlifter shows her physique before weight lifting, tilting it “145 lbs and depressed”.

Fig. 8 Female weightlifter shows her physique after weight lifting, tilting it “130 lbs and strong”.

This normalization of this incorrect perspective further endorses ED thoughts within the weightlifting community by the added social pressure. Social comparison on social media generates body dissatisfaction in users when they realize they cannot achieve the generalized ideal within the weightlifting female community (Friero). The use of social media combines two effects: media and group pressure, encouraging poor body image, and necessitating social-health intervention and preventative measures for probable ED. The usage of social media was linked to lower self-esteem and satisfaction, a negative body image, and an increase in depressive behaviors (Fiero). Sociocultural viewpoints argue that civilizations have diverse body standards that evolve over time. This is the tripartite impact model (van den Berg et al., 2002), which posits that primary sociocultural routes for the transmission of these ideals include the media, peers, and family. In this regard, the rapid increase in social media usage should be considered critical. It is clear that media on TikTok utilizes the social dependency humans have adapted to gain profit, undermining the mental consequences put on TikTok users through normalizing symptoms of EDs, such as body dysmorphia and obsession with appearance and diet.

In conclusion, this reliance on social groupings can be seen in our ancestors, as well as in our modern social institutions, and rewired socialization models via social media platforms like TikTok, which facilitates the propensity for EDs in the teen female weightlifting community.

Putting an End to Private Corporations’ Exploitation of our Evolutionary Adaptations

The public exploitation of TikTok users of their social grouping dependency has advanced EDs within the teen female weightlifting community. This manipulation is so high and at the hands of unjust corporations, it is entirely necessary to consider those of higher authority, such as the government, to end it and begin an era of progress for the sake of teen youth. Governments should enact legislation that allows for stronger control of private social media corporations to uncover the logistics behind algorithmic methods and educate weightlifting users about mental health/resources when keywords related to EDs are searched on social media platforms.

Governments should implement laws that regulate private social media businesses to bring awareness of the logistics behind efforts that further exploit social dependencies enabling EDs. The way to combat the exploitation by social media companies’ is to bring awareness to the issue. There is a growing need for private platforms that are more public friendly and promote awareness of symptoms of EDs rather than endorsing these symptoms, as this unhealthy media continues to engulf the weightlifting community (Schiffer). Governments have the power to enable private social media companies to abide by regulations that promote the greater well-being for all users. By creating legislation similar to the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, which aimed to force big tech companies to disclose how their algorithms work, private companies will be fully evaluated, enabling the first step toward a progress era and a more positive and healthy online environment (Schiffer). Through uncovering the tactics behind the chaos platforms like TikTok have enabled on the mental health of users, a clearer picture is painted and ways to take action to resolve the injustices is occurring. Enforcing a law that requires private companies to explain their algorithmic methods to formulate the filter bubbles, there is an opportunity to challenge injustice, and bring forth actual change. Getting TikTok to be more honest with their methods of social groupings, will be a step in the right direction towards awareness of the exploitation that is occurring, and further initiatives to end these actions.

Governments should enact legislation on the owners of TikTok to educate weightlifters about mental health and resources when ED-related terms are searched on social media platforms, to combat the exploitation occurring on TikTok users that promote ED. It has become apparent that ED is not a well-known mental disorder in the weightlifting community. By bringing greater awareness of EDs and resources available to communities prone to EDs, this exploitation will have less effect. By creating help-line numbers to TikTok users who search the platform for keywords such as “body dysmorphia”, “before and after lifting”, “what I eat in a day”, “bulking and cutting”, similar to what Tumblr did with terms like “suicide” and “thinspiration”, greater awareness will be enabled within the weightlifting community (Dewey). By providing support to individuals who may be suffering from or are highly susceptible to getting an ED, such as being a teen female, education must be provided before showcasing media that can further these unhealthy thoughts and behaviors is the best way to combat this mental illness. Individuals of teen age, female gender, that engage in weightlifting media will benefit from being provided with education and resources pertaining to EDs (Nagata). Through targeted interventions regarding body image and health risks of EDs, such as warnings before the media is shown to a user to warn them of its potential to trigger mental health problems. Also, offering direct helplines for EDs, will have a greater impact to get through the stigma of reaching out for help in teen females who engage in weightlifting.

To sum up, governments should enact legislation that allows greater control of private social media corporations that uncover the logistics behind algorithmic methods, and educate weightlifting users about mental health and resources. Through past, present and future, social media has and will influence the world’s population in many ways. With awareness and resources of TikTok’s negative impact on the teen female weightlifting community, there is hope to provide greater consideration and thoughtfulness towards all the impacts social media has played towards all communities and bring change to the injustices occurring.


EDs are among the many mental disorders that are not discussed enough. Due to this oblivion, there are many more impacts from this mental illness that should be addressed if there was greater awareness of it. TikTok exploits the social grouping dependency of adolescent female weightlifters by encouraging EDs. This is a concern, as Tik Tok causes unhealthy social groupings and group pressure through filter bubbles, as well as negative mental implications for previous, present, and future generations of female teen weightlifters by further stigmatizing seeking help for EDs. Use of human social grouping dependency may be observed in our primate ancestors, currently in our social institutions, and in the rewired socialization model via TikTok. To address this issue, governments should pass legislation giving them more control over private social media corporations, which would in turn allow them to uncover the logistics behind algorithmic methods and to educate weightlifting users about mental health and resources when keywords related to EDs are searched on social media platforms. As an effort to further research on EDs within the female weightlifting community, this research paper analyzes the multitude of social factors that come into play, pertaining to the furtherment of EDs in our world today. With social groupings becoming a focal point in our ancestors and current lives, understanding the utilization of this evolutionary adaptation by new advancements can uncover a counterintuitive initiative by social media platforms like TikTok, who aim to provide a safe space for individuals to build positive endorsing communities. Gaining a more holistic perspective carries our species’ ability to grow and flourish. With EDs, it is more important than ever to execute this step for not only the teen weightlifting community, but also for our entire world to broaden perspectives and bring awareness to our lives and the lives of others.

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