Unrealistic ideals are damaging for everyone.
What’s happening: A recent report reveals social media’s impact on unprescribed steroid and peptide use among teens. Often illegal yet glorified online, companies pushing unregulated substances are targeting young bodybuilders on TikTok.
- Since 2020, steroid-promoting videos have attracted 420M views from US young adults.
- 3.3% of school-age boys and 2.4% of girls have taken OTC steroids at least once.
- Drug sellers reach ~540x more followers through TikTok influencer deals.
The trend, fueled by toxic fitfluencer culture, coincides with the rise of “bigorexia”—a form of muscle dysmorphia—among adolescent males.
Skin deep. The lines between wellness and beauty have been blurring for years, and the impact isn’t limited to women. The demographic for medical aesthetics is skewing younger and male, with men’s interest in anti-aging procedures projected to double over the next five years.
But, confusing aesthetics for functional health comes with risks. For teens, steroids increase the likelihood of developing hypertension, heart attacks, fertility problems, and more.
Plus, the more people that opt for aesthetic-enhancing injectables without medical need, the more warped body image expectations will become — harming self-esteem and mental health.
Punchline: As steroid-like substance abuse becomes normalized on social media, a crucial message is missing — that looking and feeling good aren’t the same thing.