TikTok Has Banned ‘Leggings Legs’ Searches Over Fears It Promotes Eating Disorders

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses disordered eating.

TikTok has cracked down on the “legging legs” trend, after mass backlash from older users who recognised the trend as a repackaging of toxic body image ideals from their own childhoods.

In case you have been lucky enough to avoid seeing any of these heart-wrenching videos on your feed, the trend consists of women and young girls lamenting that they don’t have legs that are “legging legs”, AKA legs that look good in leggings.

It’s pretty clear from the get go that the videos refer to long, skinny legs with thigh gaps — and if you were on social media in the 2010s, then you’ll know how toxic an obsession with thigh gaps can be.

The videos have popularised thigh gaps again, which feels like a step backwards. Image: TikTok.

TikTok has since banned the hashtag. Users who try to look up videos about “legging legs” on the app are shown information about disordered eating instead.

“TikTok is an inclusive and body-positive environment and we do not allow content that depicts, promotes, normalises or glorifies eating disorders,” a TikTok spokesperson told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“When people search for content related to eating disorders, they are shown a pop-up with information and a link to the Butterfly Foundation.”

TikTok now hides videos from people who search “legging legs” and instead directs users to the Butterfly Foundation. Image: Supplied.

The “legging legs” trend has been slammed by older Millennial and Gen Z women as being harmful for young people’s body image, especially because it is so reminiscent of the kind of “pro-ana” and “thinspo” content that flitted around on the darker corners of Tumblr and Instagram in the early 2010s.

Aussie fitness influencer Steph Claire Smith told PEDESTRIAN.TV that the trend left her both furious and deeply saddened.

“I remember being obsessed with having a thigh gap. I remember it driving me insane, being angry at my genetics basically and losing anything that I had on my legs just to have a friggin’ gap because social media told me that that was what was attractive,” she said.

“When is this ever going to end? When are we going to stop treating our bodies like fashion trends?”

The trend was slammed by women in their 20s and 30s who had experienced the thigh gap discourse in their own teens. Image: TikTok.

The Butterfly Foundation also expressed its concern about the trend, noting it could potentially result in eating disorders.

“These appearance-based trends on social media can be extremely dangerous as they portray a very narrow ideal of beauty and suggest that the perfect body exists, while also enforcing the belief that your appearance or body is what makes you worthy,” Melissa Wilton, the organisation’s head of communications, told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

She suggested that young people are careful with their social media consumption and actively mute, unfollow or block accounts perpetuating these toxic trends to avoid being influenced by them.

“The power is in your hands,” she said.

However, it’s true that sometimes you can’t always avoid toxic content — especially when apps like TikTok have been known to funnel it into unsuspecting users algorithms — but when that happens, tap “uninterested” or take a break.

Be safe out there, kids. It’s rough but we are smart, media literate and know when to call out BS!