We kind of thought we’d seen everything on the internet, to be honest. But TikTok’s latest dangerous viral trend, “bone smashing,” has thoroughly proven us wrong. This is right up there with eating Tide Pods in terms of a bad idea gone internet-wide, and it signifies a larger, deeply worrying trend among men online.
What is Bone Smashing?
“Bone smashing” involves hitting one’s own face with blunt objects, like a hammer or percussive massager, in order to create micro-fractures. According to netizens, the hits are meant to be light—not that it matters. The (incredibly misguided) hope is that these micro-fractures will heal in a way that makes their jaw look more attractive.
According to Rolling Stone, this started as a hoax trend on incel boards that has since spread to TikTok, where it’s been repackaged as genuine advice as a part of ‘looksmaxxing’ culture. Even when not using a literal hammer on their faces, men are sharing attempts at tapping, massaging and “mewing” their ways to a sharper jawline, none of which have any credibility.
Not to mention that the internet is not particularly well known for parsing sarcasm, which is how this trend blew up from an in-joke among 4-chan incels to getting nation-wide news coverage.
Miami plastic surgeon, Sean Simon, MD expresses the sincere frustration these trends and their coverage ignite in professionals. “I feel like this shouldn’t require a comment,” Dr. Simon explains. “Although there are many people out there, especially these days, whom I would recommend practice this technique on themselves, over and over, it would be incredibly stupid for anyone to do this to themselves but I guess nothing should surprise us any more.”
To be clear, there is nothing to be gained from this practice.
“Is it a good idea to smash your own face in order to break your own facial bones in the hope that it would produce a more appealing appearance? NO,” Dr. Simon says firmly. “Would you take your fingers and repeatedly smash them in a door or a drawer to break them in the hopes that your hands would look and function better? The answer is also NO.”
What Is Going On Here?
We know plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancements have been on the rise recently. Younger patients and more and more men are getting interested in what the aesthetic industry has to offer. By the same token, that increased interest has led to a flood of misinformation online with DIY and quick fixes to improve your face through ‘looksmaxxing.’
Basically a TikTok tag for men to share tips on how to get hot, looksmaxxing does contain good information about skin and haircare for men, but it unfortunately has a lot of misinformation and bad advice, too. Little exercises, chewing tough gum, and now bone smashing are all attempts to get the masculine jawline that experts agree can only be achieved through professional intervention.
These recommendations are not just wrong, they’re also part of a much more worrying atmosphere among young men online where these traditionally “masculine” traits are made toxic: Men must have a strong jaw in order to be seen as manly; the way their eyes tilt indicates hunter or prey.
Toxic masculinity like this is a comprehensive mindset that has to be undone with significant work, explains Scientific American. It can make something as obviously ridiculous as hitting yourself in the face for a nicer jaw something that men online will try, even if it began as a joke.