What kind of pretty are you?: TikTok perpetuates harmful beauty standards

Social media is no stranger to beauty trends. With everything from color analysis to high vs. low visual weight, TikTok is now sorting beauty into animal categories, asking the question, “Are you bunny, cat, fox or deer pretty?” 

The trend has users taking quizzes and self-evaluating their physical features to fit themselves into one of the four categories. The categories are incredibly general and overlap. “Bunnies” are described as having light hair and soft facial features, “deer” typically have dark hair and soft features. To parallel, “foxes” have light hair and sharp features, and “cats” have dark hair and sharp features. 

This question might seem nonsensical on the surface, like another silly hashtag to keep users busy for a while until a new must-have product drops or another trending audio comes around, but this question illuminates much larger issues concerning beauty standards among women. 

One issue is that people are using this trend to figure out what kind of makeup suits them best. For example, people who are considered “bunny pretty” might use less contour and more blush than someone who is “fox pretty.” This concerns many who see makeup as a form of self-expression. 

One such TikTok user @beautybybelinda says “There are hundreds of important reasons you should do your makeup the way you want, but I don’t think any trend should say ‘I know you like this makeup, but this is your face, so you can’t have [that] makeup.’” 

This video was a stitch responding to a video about high vs. low visual weight. This is a theory trending alongside the animal categories that defines facial features and advises certain makeup styles for each of the two categories. 

Not only is the trend trying to tell people how to express themselves through makeup based on little to no reason, as facial features vary from person to person and all possible combinations couldn’t fit into four limiting categories, but it is also encouraging users to scrutinize themselves, specifically over not having the features that would align with the animal they are hoping for.

TikTok user islapaddlepop commented “I’m bunny (I want to be deer so bad)” on a video posted by @evie.magazine describing the different categories with photos of celebrities that fall into them. 

Some users feel they don’t fit in any category at all and typically the celebrities shown to exemplify the categories often don’t look alike at all. The comment section on the TikTok is full of people saying that they fall into multiple categories or don’t feel they fall into a category at all.

This trend is just feeding into the tendency created by social media to criticize your own appearance, everything from your face shape to the measurements of your forehead. Not to mention that the question implies that women are comparable to animals. 

If the trend wasn’t harmful enough, the Instagram account Impact, known for posting digestible information about everything from politics and the environment, uploaded a carousel post about this trend, pointing out that it uses phrenic ideology to tell women what type of pretty they are. 

Phrenology is a pseudoscience that informs eugenic practices. This observation, paired with the fact that the bunny, cat, fox and deer feature are all Eurocentric qualities, make it obvious that the categories are inherently racist. 

This is incredibly harmful for many reasons, but the major reason is that it is continuing to push white European beauty standards, which is not only harmful to people of color but everyone who has been inclined to scrutinize their physical appearance or stop doing their makeup in a certain way as a result of this trend.

We need to stop letting trends like this gain traction. I know there’s no way to stop trends on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, especially beauty trends, but it’s time we stop putting people in boxes based on their physical appearance and idealizing Eurocentric beauty standards. 




Featured photo courtesy of Adrienn, Pexels