Opinion | Fitness to misogyny pipeline is dangerous

By Sanchita Teeka, Columnist

In general, getting involved in fitness is a good thing. When done properly, it’s good for your health and brings you to a community centered around personal growth. On TikTok, the fitness community is huge and includes a wide variety of influencers. However, there is an increasingly common connection between fitness and misogynistic ideology. 

One of the most defining features of TikTok is the “For You Page.” On this page, the feed is specifically curated based on every small interaction users make with videos they see. Based on likes and shares, TikTok’s algorithm works to show you similar or related videos. 

This system is pretty useful and makes the content we see engaging, but it also makes it incredibly easy to fall down extremist pipelines. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in the fitness community which has become connected to misogynistic and far-right ideology.

Getting involved in TikTok’s fitness community starts out with someone liking a video of someone working out, which by the algorithms, leads to more videos of fitness. However, this then ends up suggesting videos of people who use fitness to gain a following and exert their influence in completely different areas.

For instance, Andrew Tate gained a lot of his following initially from fitness content: tips on how to build muscle and nutritional advice. Tate also says a lot of problematic things unrelated to fitness, influencing the ideology of his supporters. He commonly makes statements referring to women as property, saying women shouldn’t drive and arguing men are overall superior to women. 

Because of his fitness influence, many people look up to Tate as a role model. Plus, the statements he makes go past mere off-handed comments. Tate’s words are direct reflections of his actions.

His normalization of violence against women was seen quite plainly when he was kicked off the British version of “Big Brother” for hitting a woman with a belt. He has even said that a reason he moved to Romania was because police are less likely to pursue sexual assault allegations.

To make matters even worse, in April his home was raided as a part of a human-trafficking investigation

His actions and words tell his supporters that this type of behavior is acceptable and suggest that this is a part of being successful.

Many creators similar to Tate use his manipulative tactics, luring in impressionable young people under false pretenses. Without awareness, falling down this rabbit hole is incredibly easy and extremely dangerous.

The fitness community should be a safe place free of such manipulative practices. Fitness should be about positivity and bettering yourself in a supportive community without hijacking the fitness community with misogyny and extremist ideology.

 

Sanchita is a sophomore in LAS.

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