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TikTok Has Ruined Self-Care

Reimagining self-care practices beyond TikTok’s unrealistic standards 

By Lauren Jordanich

Photo By Sarah Cruz

If you look up “self-care” on TikTok, you’ll see one type of video: perfect-looking girls in their immaculate apartments guiding you through their flawless self-care routines. They luxuriate in pristine, white bathtubs set against beautifully tiled floors. They illuminate their bedrooms with carefully chosen candles that perfectly match the “clean girl aesthetic.” They apply expensive facemasks onto already flawless skin and prepare organic herbal tea in adorable mugs.

These videos present a stark contrast to the reality of self-care. They project an idealized image that is far from the truth, suggesting that true self-care is unattainable without a perfectly organized space or a $100+ PJ set — the list goes on.

According to Oxford Languages, self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” This broad definition indicates that self-care encompasses a wide range of practices. It doesn’t have to align with what is depicted on social media or what is currently trending.

For me, taking action to preserve my health looks different depending on what is happening in my life at that very moment. During finals week, the best I can do is get as much sleep as possible and try to eat a few substantial meals. During my period, I go on long walks instead of exercising vigorously and happily give in to my sweet-treat cravings. The routine that best serves me differs from day to day as my needs constantly change.

Self-care extends beyond physical health; it encompasses our emotional well-being and how we nurture our relationships. It may involve making tough decisions, like distancing ourselves from toxic friendships or addressing concerns with loved ones. This holistic approach to self-care acknowledges the interconnectedness of our physical and emotional health and the importance of nurturing both. 

TikTok has ruined the concept of self-care, but it’s not too late to redefine it. Do some soul-searching. What things make you feel taken care of? Write them down, and when you’re feeling down, sick, or overwhelmed, turn to your list instead of scrolling. This list will probably change constantly; don’t be afraid to redefine self-care according to your own needs and terms at any given time.


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