Looksmaxxing and Body Dysmorphia Are Prevalent with Teens

This photo is from a Looksmaxxing Guide that promises to tell teens  how to enhance one’s best features and can be purchased for $20.30.

By CHAZ PLAGER

Trends are hard to keep up with, and especially teenage ones. To many, the YMCA hosting a Teen Only Lift Night on March 28 might have seemed random, but it’s really not. Teens are coming out to the gym in droves, seemingly propelled by a new concept circulating teen online spaces: “Looksmaxxing.”

So, what is looksmaxxing? As can be inferred from the name, looksmaxxing is about “maxing” your looks. At the YMCA, I spoke to three teens, all seniors at Palisades Charter High School and avid looksmaxxers.

“Looksmaxxing is, basically, fixing your face to look as good as possible,” said H. “If possible, better than anyone.”

Looksmaxxing focuses on making the face as sharp and angular as possible while having an extremely fit “triangle” physique, H. explains.

Tiktok influencers like Sam Sulek provide advice and product placements for teens hoping to improve themselves. Avid looksmaxxers are extremely intense. Every minute facet of life can contribute to looksmaxxing.

“Don’t sleep on your front or side, dude,” Pali senior E. advises. “You let your face squish into the mattress and one side starts to droop.”

E. also “blasts gear,” bodybuilder slang for taking steroids. He takes 100 mg of Trembolone every two weeks, exponentially increasing his gains. Going six days a week, he stresses the importance of a rest day.

E. will be attending West Point in the fall 2024. He hopes that in the future he may become a bodybuilder or Navy SEAL Team Six member.

Of course, not everyone’s intentions are pure when it comes to working out. J. tells us of his newfound success in dating.

“I definitely saw a noticeable amount of girls look at me differently. It’s life-changing.”

I took the opportunity to ask the other side how they felt about boys looksmaxxing. “There’s no such thing as overdoing it with looksmaxxing,” said two junior girls. “Look good, feel good, act good, right?”

Some are skeptical of looksmaxxing, however. Another Palisades High School student at the event seemed very dismissive of the idea. “Look, you wanna look good. I get it. But when you’re buying guashas (A tool marketed to help sharpen jawlines) and sincerely believing in s**t like “predator” and “prey” eyes, what are you even doing, man?”

Senior E.A. has heard of the idea, but puts no stock in it. “It’s not looksmaxxing for me. Body dysmorphia is what keeps me going. I always seem to find something else wrong with me whenever I look in the mirror.”

E.A. estimates that one in four people he knows has body dysmorphia. “If you’ve got it, no one’s gonna convince you that you look good. You just have to deal with it. I probably should’ve talked to someone about this when I was younger, but it’s whatever at this point.”

If this sounds bleak to you, you’re not alone. The hold TikTok has on today’s teens is nearly a stranglehold, with students reinventing their whole selves and afflicting themselves with disorders of their own design over perceived “popular” things.

To be clear, a widespread push to send kids to the gym is on the whole, a good thing. America still has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Having a fitter next generation will work wonders to combat it.

But is teaching children to put so much stock in their physical appearance truly the way we wanted that epidemic to end? One thing is for sure: should the ban on TikTok pass, the effects on Gen Z will certainly be interesting to observe.

 

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