Sephora Kids and FitfluencerProblematic body images in social media

Children and young people are receptive to influencer marketing on social media. As a result, young girls prefer to buy expensive anti-wrinkle cream instead of toys and boys protein powder instead of chocolate. "Legging legs" or "Sephora Kids" are trending on TikTok and co. and underage "fitfluencers" are drawing attention to themselves. We explain why these body-related role models on social media can be problematic and what parents need to keep in mind.

TikTok increasingly features videos of eight to twelve-year-old girls presenting their new cosmetic products and imitating make-up tutorials. Or underage boys who buy and consume nutritional supplements, such as protein powder, in front of the camera. Like celebrity influencers, they test various products in order to gain recognition through likes or followers.

Influencers have long since replaced traditional role models. Children and young people look to them for inspiration and want to emulate them. The self-staging of their stars also influences how they present themselves on social media. In the klicksafe section "Influencers - important role models or bad influence?" provides comprehensive information on this topic.

Body-related trends in social media

Legging legs

"Legging legs describes the ideal that the thighs of women in leggings should not touch. Content can be accessed without restriction on popular services under the hashtag #leggingsleg. The trend is not new: at the beginning of the 2010s, the so-called "thigh gap" trended on Tumblr and suggested this as an ideal of beauty. Both trends propagate a very thin body image - unattainable for many - which can often be associated with extreme diets. 


On social media, (strength) sport is often elevated to an all-encompassing lifestyle. Young people are attracted by the idea of earning money and recognition by optimizing their own body. The images of well-trained peers can lead to high pressure among young people to achieve a comparable "body". They copy the training methods and diets of the fitfluencers, which in extreme cases can lead to eating disorders and health problems.

Sephora Kids

A current TikTok trend from the USA, in which children film themselves in the branches of the luxury beauty chain "Sephora" testing products and doing their daily routine with expensive skincare products such as anti-wrinkle serums, masks and creams for adults. They imitate TikTokers trying to correct their non-existent wrinkles and supposed beauty flaws. There is a risk here of adopting a problematic body image in which self-esteem is boosted by cosmetic products. Doctors also warn that the ingredients in skin care products can damage young skin.

In a recent youth survey on the topic of "Beauty ideals on the internet", investigated the effects of digital media use on young people's body-related self-image. The results show that the pressure on young people to conform to unrealistic body ideals is high. At the same time, the important role of parents and other caregivers in dealing with beauty ideals becomes clear.

→ More about the study

Tips for parents and guardians

Children and young people need support in order to correctly assess the goals and actions of influencers and influencer marketing. Regular conversations and an honest interest in the lives of young people are a good basis for this. 

  1. Keep in touch with your children about the latest trends, dangerous body images and influencers. For example, ask your child to introduce you to their three favorite influencers.
    The klicksafe video series "#Elterninformiert" is a good way to get an overview first. Our information brochures "What is my child actually doing on ..." provide an overview of the platforms YouTube,  TikTok and Twitch.
  2. Sensitize your child to problematic tendencies among influencers. This will enable them to classify their idols in a competent and informed manner.
  3. Encourage background knowledge, for example by educating your child about influencer marketing and how influencers work. You can use the infographic "How do YouTube stars earn money?" to illustrate what sources of income there are. The "YouTube family checklist" also offers many opportunities to start a conversation together.

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