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Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of eating disorders and disordered eating. Please take care while reading, and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.
In the text overlay of a TikTok with over 2.6 million views, model Mathieu Simoneau writes, “POV: Ur breaking up with me and asking why I haven’t said a word.”
Below, he answers: “It would break my 6 year mewing streak.”
“Mewing,” a jaw-tightening exercise that creators and celebrities allegedly use to help define their jawline, has not been proven to give any long-term benefits. (In fact, Simoneau admits he’s using a filter in the video.) But it’s a part of TikTok’s “looksmaxxing” community, made up of young men on the platform seeking to enhance their physical attractiveness. The name comes from role-playing games — to “max” is to fully achieve and maintain a character trait, like strength or wisdom, or in this case, appearance.
Some users on Reddit claim that the term looksmaxxing used to be associated with incel message boards and forums, but those participating in it on TikTok aren’t necessarily part of the incel community. It’s also not associated with the steroid-focused, SARMs and body dysmorphia videos targeting young men on TikTok; it’s more focused on “glowing up.”
Some experts, however, have raised questions over whether this trend, even though it’s presented in meme formats and over-the-top jokes, can still be harmful to the young men consuming it.
What does ‘MOG’ mean?
An expanding piece of vocabulary from the looksmaxxing TikTokers is called “MOG” or “mogging,” which stands for “Man of God.” Originally, the term was AMOG — “alpha male of the group” — which was a popular expression used in incel-centric message boards as early as 2016 to describe someone who had total control over whatever situation or group they were in.
On TikTok now, MOG is someone who has completely achieved looksmaxxing; to “mog” someone is to look better than them.
Hunter eyes vs. prey eyes
In addition to sharp jawlines courtesy of mewing, eye shape also plays a role in a looksmaxxer’s goal face. The common general categorization between eye shapes are “hunter eyes” versus “prey eyes” — the names come from a 2015 University of California, Berkeley, study that found eye and pupil shape can predict if an animal is a hunter or prey.
Looksmaxxers have co-opted this theory for humans, suggesting “hunter eyes” — which, in a human, are defined by narrow, deep-set eyes with a positive canthal tilt — are the ideal look for men. The canthal tilt is the angle between the inner corner of the eye and the outer corner of the eye. Prey eyes are categorized as having a negative canthal tilt with wider eyes.
Celebrities like Robert Pattinson and Chris Hemsworth are viewed as having “hunter eyes,” while actor Timothée Chalamet is an example of someone with “prey eyes,” Vice writes.
Despite the number of videos promising that certain facial massage techniques can create the illusion of hunter eyes, it’s not possible without surgery, according to plastic surgeon Dr. Ross Perry. Perry told Vice that it requires “a very delicate and highly specialized procedure.”
It’s also not a trait limited to just men. Many young men within the looksmaxxers community idolize it even in women — resulting in jokes about having prey eyes but marrying a woman with hunter eyes to “save” their bloodline.
Who is Jordan Barrett, and what’s his connection to mogging?
Supermodel Jordan Barrett, 26, has seemingly become the poster boy for looksmaxxing and mogging on the platform. Fancam edits of him at press events or professional photoshoots have been turned into looksmaxxing fodder for months. Some of the memes are pretty meta — using parentheticals to dismantle captions of fake confidence achieved through practicing various looksmaxxing tactics.
A lot of the MOG videos seem lighthearted and funny, but what are the long-term impacts of young TikTok users absorbing looksmaxxing content?
Nic Coppage, a social worker and specialist at the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, told In The Know by Yahoo that it’s easy for young viewers to see these looksmaxxing videos and get the idea that fitness and health should be viewed solely as transformation or makeover tools, rather than also a way to take care of oneself.
“For looksmaxxing in particular, I do think this is extremely unhealthy and has potential for harm, especially in younger viewers,” Coppage said. “This trend in particular is based in comparison and altering your physical appearance to try and obtain an unobtainable ideal.”
Coppage also pointed out that eating disorders in young men, alongside poor body image and unhealthy projections of what masculinity “should” look like, are often overlooked as a serious health concern.
“It’s not uncommon for the man in particular to not even know what he is doing is disordered,” she said. “Plus, when the viewers of these videos inevitably obtain different results than those they wanted, that is the starting point of the shame-and-blame cycle that only furthers restricting and over-exercising behaviors.”
Dr. Don Grant, the National Advisor of Healthy Device Management for Newport Healthcare, agreed with the sentiment and added that the inclusion of “God” in the MOG acronym also “intensifies” this sense of “unattainability” for this “ideal” look and facial structure.
“There is nothing wrong or unnatural about the desire to be healthy and attractive, or to want to present to others as your best possible self,” Grant told In The Know by Yahoo. “When young male social media users repeatedly encounter videos emphasizing the superiority of being ‘naturally good-looking,’ however, the impact on their well-being can be significant.”
In response to the seemingly lighthearted nature of some of the videos — jokes about “saving” bloodlines or the lesser known “benefits” of having hunter eyes are all over TikTok — Grant pointed out that it’s not helping the misconception that men are not affected by beauty standards as much as women are.
“The greater emphasis on body image issues and media influences on young girls compared to young boys often stems from historical, community, societal and certainly mass media factors,” he explained. “[But] male physical [and] body awareness, issues, struggles, conversations and eating disorders have been increasingly emerging in recent years.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, contact the National Alliance for Eating Disorders at 866-662-1235. You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741. Visit the Alliance’s website to learn more about the possible warning signs of eating disorders and disordered eating.
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The post What does ‘MOG’ mean? It’s part of the overall ‘looksmaxxing’ trend aimed at young men on TikTok appeared first on In The Know.
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