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Essay 2: My Experience with Pub 101

I was initially reluctant to enrol in an introductory course as a fourth-year student. However, I am glad that I took Publishing 101: Publication of the everyday self because, unlike communications classes, this class has provided me with a more hands-on learning experience. In this class, I was fortunate to learn how to use WordPress and cultivate, distribute, and interact with the public sphere. During my time in pub 101, I was introduced to the world of blogging and discovered how much time and effort goes into creating an online publication. I learned that a blog must consider factors, including branding, content, and user engagement. Furthermore, I had to think of a subject to write about, figure out how to define and engage my audience, and finally, figure out how to interpret my website analytics.

At the beginning of the semester, I crafted a vision board of my ideal personal cyberinfrastructure. This vision board played a crucial role in the creation of my publication. From the start, I knew that I wanted my blog to be about fashion because it is something that I am very passionate about, interested in, and enjoy. In terms of design, I wanted my blog to emulate my personal style. When it came to designing my website, I got inspiration from different mediums. The inspiration that guided my publication came from other fashion blogs I constantly visit, social media influencers I admire and stores where I shop. Throughout the semester, I received a lot of feedback from peers regarding design, content, and marketability. I had lots of fun rearranging my site and adding elements to increase my user engagement. Basu (2020) discusses the idea of digital gardens. My experience with changing my blog relates to the idea of a digital garden because as Basu, states, digital gardens explore a wide variety of topics and are frequently adjusted and changed to show growth and learning, particularly among people with niche interests (para. 3).

Next, I will discuss the audience. A blog’s audience is an essential component. The audience is such a crucial component that there are numerous tools and programmes available to analyze and track website visitors. Knowing how visitors to your website behave can help creators create the best content, post at the right time, and develop appropriate engagement strategies. All of these factors contribute to the overall quality of your blog, which increases engagement. Although my current audience is small, consisting of classmates, friends, and family. When I write my content, I keep my envisioned audience in mind. Ideally, my audience for my blog is anyone who enjoys fashion and enjoys expressing themselves through their clothing and accessories. According to Fraser (1990), the idea of a public sphere is that of a body of ‘private persons’ assembled to discuss matters of common interest (p.58). However, as technology advances, the public sphere has also transitioned online. The Internet and sites such as WordPress provide individuals with an opportunity to be a part of a broader public that was not available before. This class has taught me to embrace popular technologies to build an audience and contribute my thoughts to the broader cultural ethos. In class, we discussed the topic of publics and counter-publics. Boyd (2014) suggests that through social media, individuals build networks of people and information. And as a result, people both participate in and help create networked publics. My site, Javiera Wears What, has allowed me to assemble and interact with people to discuss ideas and disseminate knowledge about mutual interests like fashion. If I could attract a larger audience, their comments and interactions with one another would be enough to create my own public. However, for now, I am content writing about and publishing my perspective around fashion. As Basu (2020) suggests, digital gardens are less about connections and feedback and more about quiet spaces they can call their own. Although in the future I would like to expand my site and make it more than just a hobby, I am content with how much I have grown in the past four months and enjoy this space that I can call my own.

I integrated Google Analytics and Google Adsense for my blog to understand my audience better. Some insights I’ve gained about my audience include the fact that the vast majority of visitors to my site fall into two demographics. The first group is people between the ages of 25 and 34, and the second group is people between the ages of 18 and 24. Something Interesting that I found out is that 54 percent of my audience are males.

Despite the reality that developing my website has been a lot of work and that it still requires some fine-tuning, I am incredibly pleased with the content and design of my blog. In terms of the blog’s future, I intend to keep it growing and adding to it regularly.

XO,

Javiera Guevara

References

Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Boyd, D. (2014) “Searching for a public of their own.” It’s Complicated. pp 213-227. Retrieved from https://www.wattpad.com/203798155-it%27s-complicated-8-searching-for-a-public-of-their

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56-80. doi:10.2307/466240

5 Bags You Need In Your Closet

When it comes to purchasing accessories to go with an outfit, the handbag is always the most expensive purchase. A good quality handbag is more than just a functional accessory; it adds mobility, creativeness, artistry, and an edge to any outfit. It is a wardrobe essential. Yes, it is nice to have purses that you don’t have to worry about from fast fashion stores. But it’s also nice to invest in a bag that will last a lifetime and that you will cherish and pass down to your future children. Here is a list of my favourite handbags that will not only keep you in style in 2021 but will also not give you buyer’s remorse because they will go out of style in the years to come. Because a well-chosen bag can last a lifetime.

For each bag style, I’ll include a high-end version as well as a more affordable version. Low prices do not always imply low value; the less expensive options are still of high quality and will last.


1.Shoulder Bag

The ideal everyday bag for work and leisure. This is the bag you’ll most likely spend the majority of your time with, so we recommend putting a little more thought and money into it. Neutral colours such as black, grey, and tan are always safe bets.

2. Quilted Bag

Looking back at styles that still resonate with you today can help you distinguish between an investment and a wear for a few months then toss. A quilted bag has and will always be a must-have because it has remained popular among several generations. Every fashionista dreams about owning a channel. A tip I have is to look into purchasing a used Chanel to save money. Several sites such as The Real Real and Mine and Yours offer great quality gently used designer handbags for all price points.

3. The evening Bag

For date nights or evenings out with girls having a funky and stand-out purse is always a fun way to spice up a little black dress. These groovy styles are not limited to special occasions because you can always add more spice to an outfit.

Left: Purple Sequin Fendi Baguette Right: Naomi Watanabe x Kate Spade New York Small Camera Bag


4. The crossbody

The first bag in my collection was a crossbody purse. A crossbody bag, in my opinion, should be everyone’s first purse. It’s a wardrobe essential that’s the perfect size for carrying the essentials while remaining compact enough not to overpower your entire body.

Left: Gucci Soho Disco Bag Right: Marc Jacobs Softshot 17′ Bag


5.The Carry-all Tote Bag

A must-have for anyone who never leaves the house without their essentials. These are the bags you’ll always be glad you bought, whether it’s your monthly fashion magazine you can’t put down, extra face masks, or your touch up makeup bag, you will always have enough space. Because of their size, they can sometimes overpower your frame, so choose a canvas tote or a pop of colour.

Left: Chloe Woody logo-print canvas and leather tote bag Right: Marc Jacobs Tote Bag

XO,

Javiera Guevara

How to Style: Cowboy Boots

If you know anything about me, you must be aware that my current obsession is cowboy boots. My obsession began when I saw this photo on Julianna Citali’s Instagram. As soon as I saw the photograph, I knew I wanted my own pair of boots. To my surprise, manifestation is a real thing, or at least it seemed when I found some cowboy boots at my local value village for twenty dollars. I remember spending hours scrolling through Pinterest, desperately trying to find ways to style these black leather boots that didn’t pair them with denim shorts and a riding belt. Even though I do not wear them as much as I would like due to several reasons including having nowhere to go because of COVID and terrible weather that favours rain over the sun. I have compiled a list of my favourite ways to style cowboy boots


1. Wear them with a dress

In the summer, my favourite way to style cowboy boots is with a dress. The rugged texture of the leather boots juxtaposed with the feminine nature of a linen dress creates the perfect balance.

Image from @juliannacitali

2.Style them overtop or under jeans

When I first started my adventure of trying to figure out how to style cowboy boots I was hesitant to wear them with jeans as I did not want to look like I just came back from horseback riding. For my 22nd birthday this year, I decided to take a leap of faith and tried styling them over top of my vintage Levi’s. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome! I can now confidently say that pairing cowboy boots with denim is not a fashion faux pas and with the right amount of confidence can be a killer outfit.


3.Make it hard core by adding leather

To add a rock and roll feel, pair your cowboy boots with a leather jacket. Leather Jackets are a wardrobe staple. You can find many versions of this versatile piece. My favourite stores to purchase leather jackets include Zara, Free People, and vintage stores such as Shop Glory Days. Combining a leather jacket with cowboy boots brings back memories of watching Lana Del Rey’s Ride music video.

Image from Pinterest.com

4.Don’t be boring

Shoes add flair to any outfit, so if you’re brave enough to wear them, don’t limit yourself to the standard black leather pair. Be bold and stand out. Cowboy boots are an excellent way to experiment with various colours and materials. Here are some photos of cowboy boots that stray away from the basic and will elevate your look to the next level

XO,

Javiera Guevara

Spring is Here!

For my last mini assignment I was tasked to make a gif for my blog and this is what I came up with!

Last week, I went to White Rock, and I can certainly say that I am officially ready for the hot weather. If you didn’t know, White Rock is this cute oceanside city in South Surrey. And fun fact, it has the longest pier in all of Canada. The palm trees and beach house vibes got me all excited for spring and summer! With all this in mind, I decided to start dressing more appropriately for the weather.

My Outfit details:

Shirt: lace bustier from Victoria Secret

Pants: Dickies High-Waisted Ankle Pant from Urban Outfitters

Socks: Nike crew socks

Shoes: Nike air force 1’s

Frankies Bikini’s X Hailee Steinfeld Review

The weather in Vancouver is starting to brighten up, and by this, I mean it was sunny for two days last week, so naturally, my first thought is to begin bikini shopping for the summer. A swimsuit brand that I have been obsessed with for the past few years is Frankies Bikinis. For their latest collection, Frankies Bikinis have collaborated with Hailee Steinfeld to drop two collections this March. The release of the first assortment of bikinis was on March 9, and the second one will drop on March 22. Since the second collection is not yet available, I will only be reviewing the first one. Moreover, if you have been paying attention to the Spring/Summer 2020 fashion trend reports, you are well aware that retro 70’s-inspired patterns are a must-have for the upcoming season. Luckily for you, this collection is filled with vibrant and funky fabrics in three different colorways that will more than happily meet your vintage dreams.

This collection has a wide range of swimsuit styles, including string bikinis, cut-out one-pieces and high-rise bottoms. In terms of the size range, everything is available in XS-XL, with select pieces available, up to 2XL. My favourite aspect of this collection is the abundance of clothing apparel that can be worn with or without the swimsuits including, halter dresses and coordinating short sets. Overall, I am obsessed with the collection from start to finish. In addition to hitting the mark on all the major swimwear trends, it also provides us with cozy and chic summer clothing.

My favourite piece from the collection is the Seraphina one-piece in disco yellow. I have been looking to invest in a one-piece bathing suit for the longest time. But have yet to find one that is neither too conservative nor too revealing. This collection’s Seraphina one-piece is serving up the hottest 70’s Malibu beach babe vibe, and I’m totally digging it!

The Seraphina one-piece in Shimmy Blue

XO,

Javiera Guevara

Can you copyright clothing designs?

Last week Emma Chamberlain posted to her Instagram. In the photograph, she was wearing a sweater that was gifted to her by Courtney Mawhorr. Courtney revealed this week that she would be releasing a small collection of sweaters similar to the one worn by Emma. Everything seems alright, correct? Wrong. The problem here is that Courtney gave Lindsay Vrckovnik credit for her idea in an Instagram post a few weeks ago. Courtney claimed in her caption that Lindsay’s work inspired her and gave her full credit for the sweater idea. However, after hearing the news about Courtney’s latest capsule collection for the sweaters, Lindsay took to Instagram, proclaiming her disappointment at Courtney profiting from her idea. She expressed displeasure that someone who openly credited her is selling sweaters and gaining credit for the new super cropped sweater trend. This enraged Lindsay’s supporters, who commented on Courtney’s post, saying things like

“This is cute and crediting Lindsay was the right move! Buttttttt starting your own collection of pieces that you admit are based on the unique designs of another person is NOT RIGHT!”


@emilyjdeyo on Instagram

This whole situation coincided well with this week’s lecture-discussion on content and copyright in my publishing class. In the article, You Say Tomaydo, I Say No Copyright Infringement: Recipe Book Not An Original Compilation, the issue raised by the author is copyright in Canada and the States. The article follows a court hearing regarding past business partners who are fighting over copyright infringement concerning recipes. Throughout the case hearing, it is explained that recipes do not have copyright protection. This is analogous to fashion design since garment innovations are not protected by copyright in Canada or the United States. Moreover, courts have concluded that clothing is non-copyrightable because clothing serves a utilitarian purpose. Yes, clothes do look nice, but its primary purpose—at least in the eyes of the law—is that it keeps us warm, keeps our delicate feet from being cut up by rocks, and covers us up enough so that we meet public community decency standards.

As exemplified through the Courtney and Lindsay drama, although copyright does not directly protect fashion designs, it is still a fashion faux pas to reproduce somebody else’s creation. The power of social media is evident. If the law won’t uphold designers accountable, fashion enthusiasts will.

XO,

Javiera Guevara

Remix the Look: 19th Century London

If you are like me and binge-watched Bridgerton in two days, this post is for you. This week in my Pub 101 class, we were given the task to remix something relevant to our blog. I thought long and hard about this and came up with the idea of remixing 19th-century London fashion (as seen in Bridgerton) and making it more 2021 friendly.

If you have not watched Bridgerton yet, here is a quick synopsis. The show centres around Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of the respected Bridgerton family and her adventure entering the marriage market. Joining Daphne are the daughters of her neighbour, Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) and her estranged niece. Failing to attract suitors, attracting the wrong suitors, and a gossip column all add to this drama-filled show.

Besides the incredible plot and dynamic characters, the styling is what truly captivated the audience. From the embellishing on the gowns to the feathered wigs, each character outdid themselves from one episode to another. Although the fashion is immaculate, I cannot imagine myself strolling to the grocery store in a vintage ballgown. Here are some ways to incorporate 19th-century trends into your everyday life

Corsets

In the 19th-century corsets, were made stiff with heavy boning. They would mould women’s upper body into a V-shape, flattening the stomach and pushing up the breasts. Overall, corsets were uncomfortable and meant to be foundation garments that ensured straight spines and pleasing body shapes later in life. Luckily in the 21st-century, we have strayed from these restrictive and uncomfortable fashion habits, gearing more towards clothing as a form of self-expression. Corsets are a fun way to spice up your outfit. I have always been obsessed with the Vivienne Westwood corsets that have renaissance graphics on them. I enjoyed how Bella Hadid styled it with brown cargo pants, patent leather booties, and a slick back ponytail.

Bustier Tops

I would argue that the bustier top is the modern-day version of a corset. Both items can be layered over top of shirts, styled alone, and both accentuate the breasts. I am a big fan of bustier tops and love styling them with baggy jeans and platform Doc Martens. A store that I have been loving recently is Shop Flesh and Bones. It is a Depop shop that sells vintage corsets, bustier tops, and slip dresses.

Night Gowns

Image from Netflix.com

In the 19th-century, or at least in Bridgerton, there was a clear distinction between your day clothes and nightly garments. Sleepwear in the 19th-century was simple, white garments and the ultimate in prudence for Victorian ladies. In recent years we have seen a trend towards wearing vintage nightgowns during the day. I am obsessed with the store Eveliina Vintage on Instagram. It is a vintage store based out of Miami and New York City specializing in vintage gowns, slip dress, and sweaters. I would style a vintage nightgown with a chunky knit sweater, white leather sneakers, and a pearl necklace.

Slip Dresses

I would argue that slip dresses are the modern-day version of a nightgown. Both nightgowns and slip dresses are made from lightweight materials such as silk, lace, or satin. This summer, I will be investing in a silk slip dress from Aritizia that I have had my eye on since last year. I would pair this dress with my black cowboy boots, cropped linen jacket, a pair of Raybans, and a claw clip updo.

xo,

Javiera Guevara

Winter Wonderland: Dressing for the Cold Weather

Last week during the reading break, my boyfriend and I went on a road trip to Golden, BC. This trip inspired this week’s blog post, where I want to discuss dressing for the cold. I know it is hard to find the motivation to look cute when the weather forecast is in the negatives, the days are short, and you are stuck inside for most of the day. However, I often find that winter fashion is the best because you can always just layer a bulky jacket over top of a not-so-weather-appropriate outfit.

Here are some of my top tips to stay fashionable this winter season

Add a pop of colour

Just because the days are dim and dark does not mean your clothing has to be. In the winter, I find myself gravitating to darker and cooler tones. However, to add a little spice and fun to my outfits, I will always incorporate some sort of colour. For Christmas, my boyfriend got me this sensationally bright orange Carharrt beanie that came in handy this road trip.

Image of me at Lake Louise

Add a Puffer Jacket

A few years ago, Aritzia revolutionized the winter fashion game when it came out with the super puff. It is safe to say that the super puff jacket is this season’s wardrobe staple. I own two different variations of the super puff, including the original one in taupe and the cloud puff in green. I love this style of jacket because it keeps you warm while allowing you to stay fashionable. I enjoy styling it with a turtle neck sweater, mini skirt, and sheer tights.

Image from @Aritzia on Instagram

Don’t forget your accessorizes

Growing up, I hated it when my mom would force me to wear scarves, mittens, and toques. I always felt suffocated with so many layers. However, as you grow up, you learn to realize that your mother always knows best. Now I cannot imagine leaving the house without at least a scarf. I love chunky and colourful scarves such as this one from Acne Studios.

Image from @linmick on Instagram

Sunglasses are NOT just for summer

If you have ever been to the snowy mountains on a sunny day, you know the importance of sunglasses. It is imperative to know that even in the winter months, bright UV exposure can cause photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is commonly referred to as snow blindness and can be very harmful. That is why you must always pack a pair of sunnies. In the winter, I go for an all-black frame as they pair nicely with everything.

No source

Your Grandma’s chunky knits are essentials

2021 trend prediction here! This recent winter season, I have been seeing chunky knit sweaters all over Pinterest. I also have recently started following Lindsay Vrckovnik on Instagram. I fell in love with her hip and trendy fashion taste. Her Instagram feed includes photos of hand-made knits, avantgarde lace dresses, and hand-dyed shirts. She is the queen of chunky over-sized knit sweaters, and I am definitely taking notes on her styling choices.

Image from @linmick on Instagram

Thoughts?

Are you experiencing colder-than-average temps right now? Do you have any tips for dressing warm while maintaining a chic aesthetic? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Javiera Guevara

Twitter as a source for political discourse

It is no secret that social media has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. Whether social media is used for shopping, communicating, job searching, or receiving the news, it is an integral part of our everyday life. In this essay, I want to delve deeper into how social media platforms create a space for political dialogue going beyond traditional news outlets. I will be looking specifically at how social media has initiated a modernized way to acquire and spread the news. As of late last year, “18% of U.S. adults say they turn most to social media for political and election news…[which is] on par with the percent who say their primary pathway is cable television (16%) or local television (16%)” (Mitchell et al., 2020, para. 4). Therefore, it is safe to say that it has fundamentally affected political information consumption. Furthermore, I will be looking explicitly at the platform Twitter, discussing both positive and negative effects the site has on producing, curating, and disseminating the news.

Firstly, I will provide a brief background on Twitter as this will provide context for why I chose this specific platform. Twitter is a microblogging service known for its “limited nature of the onscreen input field that allows users to send messages no longer than 140 characters” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 232). A microblog is a further development of a blog. A blog is a website that contains periodically published postings organized so that shown first are newer postings. A microblog allows for one to share short messages with other users and the public. Fuchs (2014) states that a microblog entails three distinctive characteristics, including (1) users having a public profile where they broadcast short public messages/updates […] (2) messages become publicly aggregated together across users; (3) users can decide whose messages they wish to receive, but not necessarily who can interact with their content (p. 8). Weblogs have “come of age, enabling anyone with the will or desire to communicate with other like-minded individuals at relatively little or no cost” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 231). All these characteristics allow for the perfect platform for people to post information and content regarding political discourse. And an excellent site for further inquiry into the affordances and shortcomings that social media has on the political dissertation. Furthermore, I chose Twitter because it is the platform from where I receive my news. 

Now, I will look at the shortcomings of Twitter as a source for political discourse. A critical element to take into consideration is the echo chamber effect. Twitter is said to be a “modern public square where many voices discuss, debate and share their views” (Wojcik & Hughes, 2019, para. 1). However, it is also well-established that Twitter echo chambers are real when it comes to political affiliation. The term echo chamber refers to “the context of social media, situations where users consume content that expresses the same point of view that users themselves hold or express” (Garimella, 2018, p. 2)

A study found that Twitter users are, to a considerable degree, exposed to political opinions that agree with their own. An algorithmic code runs Twitter, meaning that Twitter suggests topics based on what it thinks someone likes. When someone follows a Topic, related tweets, users, events, and ads will appear in their home feed. Your feed is curated specifically for you, which can be a bad thing. An example of this regarding political affiliation is that if you lean towards a specific side, chances are Twitter already knows that and filters content that caters to your beliefs only. For instance, take the topic of abortion. If you are, pro-life it is almost a guarantee that your feed will only provide news relevant to that point of view. Taking all this into consideration creates concerns that citizens are becoming more polarized about political issues. If the algorithm only feeds you content that expresses only opinions you agree with, it limits your abilities to gain a multiperspective view of the world. Overall, it is evident that Twitter and its echo chamber do not allow for learning a diverse and broad set of general political news that can be troublesome.

Now that I have discussed some shortcomings, it is only fair that I give credit where it is due. There is no dispute that social media can add an “extra dimension to reporting breaking news events” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 232). One affordance Twitter has, is being able to grant instantaneous sharing of current events and news stories. Twitter is a real-time global communications platform, and this is where its comparative advantage lies. Also, Twitter is known to have beaten traditional mainstream news outlets to breaking stories. Another positive aspect of Twitter concerning political discourse and producing, curating, and disseminating the news is the user’s ability to become producers. Social media in the web 2.0 era has allowed users to become more than just passive listeners, but rather producers of content. You do not need a journalism degree to voice your opinion or be involved in political topics online. You can be a part of the conversation, actively posting, sharing and interacting with other users. Although not everyone will view it due to the echo chamber effect, your contribution to political discussion is still valid and worthy of recognition. 

I argue that social media platforms such as Twitter are great additions to current traditional news outlets. However, they should not entirely replace them as sites for political information consumption and dialogue. Highlighted in this essay are both affordances and drawbacks of Twitter in political discourse. Although it gives everyone an equal opportunity to spread their message and produce original content, it can also seclude people from interacting with other viewpoints. 

Sources:

Fuchs, C. (2014). Twitter and Democracy: A New Public Sphere? Social Media: A Critical Introduction, 179–209.

Garimella, Kiran, Morales, Gianmarco De Francisci, Gionis, Aristides, & Mathioudakis, Michael. (2018). Political Discourse on Social Media: Echo Chambers, Gatekeepers, and the Price of Bipartisanship.

Jewitt, R. (2009). The Trouble with Twittering: Integrating Social Media into Mainstream News. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 5(3), 233.

Mitchell, A., Jurkowitz, M., Oliphant, J. B., & Shearer, E. (2020, July 30). Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. https://www.journalism.org/2020/07/30/ 

Sehl, K. (2020, May 20). How the Twitter Algorithm Works in 2020 and How to Make it Work for You. Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard. https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-algorithm/. 

Wojcik, S., & Hughes, A. (2019, April 14). Sizing Up Twitter Users. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/. 

The Tik Tok Algorithm is your Worst Enemy if you Suffer or are Recovering from an Eating Disorder

In my blog, I talk a lot about fashion and the fashion industry. One topic that I want to shed light on is the fashion industry’s beauty standard. And the harmful effects it has on a girl’s body image. There is no secret that TikTok, is run by an algorithm. This algorithm has lots of power over the content you are fed. My TikTok page is filled with fashion-related content because that is the type of video that I engage with the most. Fashion-related content, however, comes at a price. Being skinny and fashion come hand in hand, and when you are shown hundreds of thin girls wearing trendy outfits, it starts to take a toll.

This next section was written for my CMNS 455 class last semester. However, I wanted to include this in my blog as well!

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), in the United States alone 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Eating disorders disproportionately affect teens with higher prevalence in those between the ages of 12-25. Correspondingly, TikTok’s target audience is teenagers and young adults, with 41% of users ranging between 16 and 24. This correlation is important to note as I argue that the TikTok algorithm is failing to detect pro-anorexia (pro-ana) communities from infecting the For You page which is triggering for people who are currently dealing with or are recovering from an eating disorder.   

Almost all social media platforms or visually interactive websites have fallen victim to pro-ana communities, which are spaces dedicated to promoting eating disorders by presenting graphic material to encourage and motivate site users to continue their efforts with anorexia and bulimia. The visual nature of these platforms allows for this toxic type of content to run rampant. Discovering and handling these pro-ana communities is common for web companies. In 2012, Tumblr announced that it would be banning blogs that actively promote self-harm this includes “blogs that glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders; self-mutilation; or suicide”. With this noticeable history of pro-eating disorder content on social media sites, it is disheartening to see that TikTok was not better prepared. TikTok released a statement saying that it will take down content that “encourages or may encourage acts that are likely to lead to physical self-inflicted injury”. Yet, this has not stopped the spread, the algorithm is not doing a well enough job detecting pro-ana content because just by watching one video related to weight loss or eating disorders it results in hundreds of suggestions of pro-ana videos on the For You page.   

The “For You” section is run by an algorithmic code, in social media algorithms aid in maintaining order, and facilitates ranking content and search results. The For You page curates a feed by showing videos that are related to your profile, location, and suggests videos that are like ones you have already engaged with. However, as the app grows in popularity the downfalls of its algorithm are starting to show. For many users such as myself who have dealt with disordered eating, the TikTok algorithm is becoming one of my worst enemies. One random suggested video can pop up and the algorithm notes on how you interact with said video. If you end up liking or watching enough videos all the way through, that is all you will see on your main feed. Moreover, simply by engaging with one video, it can lead to a spiral of more and more triggering content which can have devasting resultsIt is important to as well that the engineers who are working on the algorithm or who are screening for triggering content are most likely not able to fully understand or relate to what type of content may be triggering. It is reported that eating disorder patients often report feeling “triggered” by certain images or words. Content such as weight loss progress reports, what I eat in a day, weight loss hacks, and body checks may be triggering for some. Body checking is an obsessive behavior in which an individual focuses on certain features of his or her body, this has manifested on TikTok by people filming themselves different angles of their bodies. These types of videos are often overlooked when screening for harmful videos and continue to flood users’ homepages.  

Some may argue that the algorithm is functioning accurately, TikTok is giving users a personalized and entertaining experience and there are options to keep unwanted content out of your For You page. There is the option to select “not interested” on any videos recommended by the algorithm. Moreover, TikTok will only show eating disorder-related content if you’re already engaging with it and keep doing so. Therefore, if you actively are trying to keep this type of content out of your For You page this content will not show up. Also, social media companies’ recommendation algorithms aren’t trained to make moral and health-related judgments.   

The issue I have with this argument is that although the algorithm is not trained to make these moral or health-related judgments it is TikTok’s responsibility to keep its users safe and to create an environment that does not promote unhealthy eating habits. Researchers have reported a “clear pattern of association” between social media use and disordered eating thoughts and behaviours. Therefore, as a platform that is currently the hub for teenagers and young adults the app must uphold and maintain a safe community for all its users. Taking this all into consideration, I call on TikTok to work more closely with trained professionals to effectively handle this type of content that is landing on so many users For You page. Let this be a learning opportunity for other social media platforms to learn from so that this type of content does not infect any more sites.