Rhinoplasty: TikTok’s latest dangerous trend

By Fanta Kaba

Few things are trendier on Tiktok than a nose job. All across the platform creators have started a rhinoplasty trend under the guise of a deviated septum. Some creators have even unabashedly encouraged rhinoplasty as therapy for nose insecurity. But the biggest culprit in the campaign against natural noses is Tiktok’s beauty filters. Now we must ask who these rhinoplasty videos and filters target and impact the most? Of course, it’s the dynamically vulnerable teenage girl.

TikTok started as a place to share funny content and memes but has evolved like any other social media platform into a breeding ground of unhealthy competition and self-loathing. Whitney Crenna-Jennings, the author of a 2020 research on young people’s mental health says, “Girls experience more depressive symptoms than boys, such as feeling worthless or hopeless, while they are also more likely to feel unhappy about their physical appearance.” One of the biggest causes of this discrepancy is the objectification of women in social media. Platforms like Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok use the popular obscure insecurities (nose shape, eye distance, eyebrow density, etc.) of women and exploit body dysmorphia with beauty filters. TikTok’s rhinoplasty filter shuffles through a range of socially acceptable noses and allows the user to choose which nose suits them the best. As users shuffle through a variety of noses, they often caption the videos with self-deprecating jokes about running to the surgeon’s office. But when did our natural noses become unsuitable or undesirable?  

Field trips to the surgeon’s office are the only permission slip parents are signing these days.

It would be absurd to blame Tiktok for creating nose insecurities because rhinoplasty has been a trend among women for decades, but we are now seeing a rise of teenage girls glamorizing trips to the medical table. Filters are just one-way Tiktok has revolutionized negative self-perceptions but mass media consumption is the second head in the hydra of body dysmorphia attacking teenage girls. One user, Nia.papayaa, vulnerably reflects on her experience with insecurity through obsessively watching eurocentric women get the attention she desired, which is why she started to consider rhinoplasty. She dives into the climate of TikTok making a nose job seem like an “easy fix” because “people on Tikok are constantly getting their noses done and posting videos about the results.” When the creators of rhinoplasty videos have noses just like you, you begin to believe that there is something wrong with your nose because of the reactions in comment sections congratulating the user on getting their nose “done.”

Creators go as far as trying to convince young girls that getting a nose job was the best thing they could’ve done. Seeing someone say a nose job was the solution to self-esteem issues conditions young girls to believe that shaving off polished pieces of yourself to fit into the coin slot of acceptance is always rewarding. Sadly it is not and almost always irreversible. Tiktok creator, @hallebobaly, regrets getting a nose job at 17 because she doesn’t recognize the person she sees in the mirror anymore. Looking back now she says, “Making that decision at the ripe age of 17, like I regret it, like I fully regret it.” All types of plastic surgery are life altering decisions, which is why it is a decision you should make uninfluenced by social media.

The most followed teenager on the platform, Charlie D’Amelio, got a rhinoplasty for a deviated septum on a video addressing her surgery. There is nothing wrong with altering your nose for medical reasons but the communication of her procedure to her predominately adolescent followers is problematic. After her procedure, she posts a video, with her nose still bandaged, to a sound joyfully screaming “nose job check!” and tagging her surgeon in the caption. Charlie has become the mascot for kid-friendly and dancing-oriented parts of TikTok so what happens when little girls want to join in on the trend and post their own nose job check? 

The promotion of cosmetic procedures in the media catered for the digestion of impressionable and ravenous young girls concerns me. Inherently, we make a relation between physical appearance and self-perception, and by teenhood this connection is centralized by angst. In today’s age, habitually consuming seeming perfection through social media plants a strategic and profitable bull’s eye on teenage girls’ happiness. These parts of an ideal body form a grossly disfigured image of societal rejection. Social media steals adolescence by conditioning girls to believe beauty comes off a medical table when you are half-awake. So they fixate on angles, lighting, and likes instead of accepting themselves for who they are. Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is too illustrious to consider blows to a poor girl’s self-esteem since nothing hits heavier than dollar signs. We should monitor the promotion of cosmetic surgeries to protect the youth, our sanity and bank accounts.