Posts tagged with "tiktok"

Owner shocked by spoiled dog’s antics while he’s staying with ‘grandparents’

May 23, 2023

It’s often difficult for dog owners to leave their pets at home while they go on vacation, but rescue pup Myko was in very good hands when his ‘hoo-man’ left him with her parents for a couple of days, reports Newsweek.

Myko’s owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, knew that her rescue dog was having a blast with his grandparents as they sent regular updates of their antics. She told Newsweek that “Myko is obsessed with his ‘grandparents,’” and he will go to their house as often as four times a week to see them. “It’s like his second home, but we call it his vacation home,” she explained.

With that familiarity, there’s no doubt that Myko is happy to make himself comfortable. But when Myko’s mom arrived at the house to collect him, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Myko standing on top of the table for attention.

She posted a video on his TikTok account (@mykomushroom) on May 12, joking that he can “do whatever he wants” at their house. The video of the dog being spoiled has received over 450,000 views and more than 44,000 likes since it was posted.

“They had just cleared the table because they had finished breakfast. There’s a bench nearby, so apparently he just used it to climb up on there. He was busy kissing and nuzzling them when I walked in, and they were loving every moment.

“Myko has such a big personality, he’s very human-like. It was just a really cute and funny moment. He does all kinds of funny things, so while it was definitely surprising, it was not off-brand for him. I wasn’t mad at all, it was adorable.”

Myko’s owner said a lot of social media users have related to the video, as
grandparents have “a bond unlike any other” with their human and canine grandchildren.

“It’s a bond that’s free any of the totally normal and understandable challenges that come with being a parent,” she continued. “They just get to have fun, be a safe place, and an escape—it’s pure love.”

The video has received many comments from understanding pet owners who have had their own similar experiences.

One person commented: “What happens at the grandparents’ house stays at the grandparents’ house. My mom has my babies spoiled rotten.”

Another person jokingly wrote: “They clearly have a favorite child.”

Research contact: @Newsweek

‘Grim Reaper’ spotted at King Charles’ coronation

May 9, 2023

Who invited this creep? Eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted what appears to be a cloaked figure scurrying in the background of King Charles III’s coronation, likening the unknown individual to the Grim Reaper, reports the New York Post.

A person wrapped in hooded, black robes carrying a long rod, akin to a scythe, was caught dashing in front of the golden arches within the cathedral on Saturday, May 6, just as the coronation procession was leaving the church.

“Anyone else just notice the Grim Reaper at Westminster Abbey?” a person wrote on Twitter, grabbing 2 million views.

“I noticed him! Who’s he looking for?” one person responded.

“Anyone else see the Grim Reaper make an appearance at the Coronation?” tweeted another, as users quipped it could be Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, in disguise. She was reported to be staying home in California.

The footage even reached TikTok, where one at-home viewer scored 8.8 million views on the “reaper’s” quick cameo.

“NAH IT CANT JUST BE ME THAT SAW IT,” the caption read, in part.

“Diana getting her revenge,” offered one viewer.

“Dianas invite defo [definitely] arrived,” joked another.

“Lizzy came back with backup this time,” chimed in someone else.

“Lizzy wants her crown back,” agreed another.

Research contact: @nypost

Meet the man behind the ‘crying at the altar’ meme

April 28, 2023

Although you might not know this man’s name, you’ve probably seen a video of his emotional reaction after seeing his wife walk down the aisle, reports Good Morning America.

Meet Anthony Cortesi of Chicago. A touching clip from his wedding has garnered more than 52 million views on TikTok and has become one of the latest trends to take hold of the Internet.

“If this isn’t my future husband, I don’t want it,” one user wrote beneath the post, which was first shared on August 31, 2022. Social media users have since started using Anthony Cortesi’s reaction to express their love for anything from their beloved pet to their new high-power leaf blower.

Anthony Cortesi says he had such an emotional reaction because he felt like the moment was a long time coming. “We both worked really hard for this for a number of years,” said Anthony Cortesi, who proposed to his now-wife Lindsey Cortesi in 2020 after six years of dating. “We planned it out, found the perfect place and everything like that. So that’s why I had the reaction, I feel like we just have great love and fam

Above, Anthony’s bride, Lindsey Cortesi. (Photo source: Aspen Avenue)

ily support.”

Lindsey Cortesi said nothing could have prepared her for seeing her husband’s reaction on the day of the wedding. “Just to see him, the way he just turned and his emotion. [They say], ‘You’ll know when he’s the one,’ and it was like, I knew it,” she said. “It was just a beautiful moment.”

The couple’s wedding videographer caught the special moment on camera and knew it was a “one in a million” reaction.

“I do a lot of wedding videos; we shoot like 40 to 60 a year. We always make the joke when we talk to the groom that we’ll bring a little bag of onions or we’ll step on a toe to get the reaction…. As soon as I saw [Anthony Cortesi] cry, I was like, ‘Oh, he really loves this woman and I’ll tell you that much,'” said Michael Gonzalez, who co-runs the wedding media business, Aspen Avenue, with wife and photographer Nicole Gonzalez, who posted the video to TikTok.

“Just seeing it in person felt so real,” said Nicole Gonzalez, who is also the bride’s step-sister. It was such a beautiful moment […] just seeing it come to life,” she added. “And I was like, ‘This is this is going to go next level [on TikTok].”

Anthony Cortesi said he was shocked that his reaction went viral, but is glad that people are enjoying the moment. “A lot of guys at work are like, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen your video’ and they’re sending me videos on Instagram and messenger and text, all kinds of stuff,” said Anthony Cortesi. “I didn’t expect this to happen, I just thought it was gonna be you know a few likes.”

He noted that going viral “doesn’t bother me too much.”

“Oh, he loves it,” added Lindsey Cortesi.

Research contact: @GMA

Epic Gardening’s epic quest to win the booming grow-your-own and homesteading movements

March 24, 2023

Kevin Espiritu’s first foray into growing his own food was hardly an auspicious one. This was back in 2013—just after the Epic Gardening founder and CEO had graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Espiritu was kicking around at home in San Diego when his mom suggested that he and his younger brother find a bonding activity for the summer. Although they knew nothing about gardening, they decided to give and go and “hit the nursery together,” Espiritu recalls. And with that casual choice, he found his purpose, reports Fast Company.

“I went full nerd,” he says. “I got like a five-gallon bucket and tried to grow hydroponic cucumbers—so no soil, pro lights, and stuff. They were really, really bad. My brother said he almost threw up when he ate them. But for me, it kind of hooked me because of the science-y angle to it. That’s when I decided, hey, I’ll register the [Epic Gardening] domain and kind of journal about it.” (His brother, he said, watched in delight as his bucketful of basil exploded into a giant bush.)

A decade later, Espiritu is hardly winging it anymore. What started as a hobbyist blog that chronicled Espiritu’s coming-of-age as a green thumb has morphed into a direct-to-consumer gardening empire with original content on YouTube, TikTok, and other social media platforms; podcasts; and a line of products—from root pouch fabric pots to raised garden beds—available to buy online.

Last year Epic Gardening, which has an online audience of about 6 million, acquired the seed packet company, Botanical Interests, opening up a distribution pipeline to 4,500 stores around the country. This boost helped Epic Gardening generate $27 million in revenue last year. (Ironically, the cucumber seeds from that forgettable first experiment were from a Botanical Interests packet.)

Espiritu understands that he’s tapped into the culture’s back to the basics movement that has caused an uptick in home chicken coops and homemade bread, particularly amongst sustainably-minded young people. The trend was already underway before the pandemic, but went into overdrive once people were in lockdown mode.

“COVID was crazy,” Espiritu says. “The lockdown was announced on the 10th of March, and on March 11th I woke up and the main Epic Gardening YouTube channel was at like 220,000 views and we were getting 15,000 new subscribers a day.” He acknowledges that “partly it was because we’re named Epic Gardening, so if someone types in ‘gardening,’ we’re just there.”

But Espiritu’s relatable, I’m-just-a-regular-guy tone—accentuated by his uniform of a hoodie, baseball cap, and thin layer of stubble—has clearly struck a vibe with viewers. In a video about what mistakes to avoid when creating a raised bed garden, he says, “I kind of grew up just like a SoCal skater rat kid,” so “I’ve made just about all the mistakes I’m going to show you. And so I know the pain of them, so that gives me the experience to say, really avoid them.”

Yet his videos are hardly glib, clickbait clips. A recent one about starting a chicken coop (“Raising Chickens: Everything You Need to Know!”) runs more than 20 minutes long; and delves into everything from space requirements to different hen breeds and which are suited for warmer or colder climates. A video about how to grow ginger in a container gets into such nerdy details as what ginger roots are technically called (rhizomes) and how photosynthesis affects faster growth. The video has racked up over 10 million views.

With a $17.5 million investment from the Chernin Group behind it (that deal closed in late 2021), Epic Gardening is attempting to expand as steadily as well-fertilized bougainvillea. In addition to online articles, there are now two podcasts and four YouTube channels—including one devoted to regenerative gardening; and one built around Espiritu’s former assistant Jacques, who delves into farm-to-table cooking and sustainable practices. Espiritu’s started the Epic Homesteading channel two years ago when he bought a new house.

Unsurprisingly, Espiritu has talked to production companies about a TV show but says, “It would have to be really juicy, because we have no creative limits on us now.” Instead, he says, “I think a lot of what’s on the focus at least in the next year or so is looking at the industry and saying, ‘Okay, what awesome products could we develop and distribute through our network?”

Research contact: @FastCompany

TikTok to limit screen time for under-18 users to one hour a day

March 2, 2023

Tick-tock … Time could be running out for the teens of TikTok.

The New York Post reports that, on Wednesday, March 1, the juggernaut viral video platform announced major changes for under-18 users, with a one-hour daily screen time limit set to be introduced in the coming weeks in an effort to curb endless scrolling that some argue is turning youths into “boring beasts.”

The goal: Reining in the way teens interact with the increasingly popular—and controversial— app. The new restrictions come after the White House on Monday ordered government agencies to rid their devices of the Chinese-owned TikTok within 30 days in an effort to prevent China’s communist government from spying on the United States.

“We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect,” said Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of Trust and Safety, in a statement. “We’re improving our screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.”

The new 60-minute time limit will be automatically applied to every user under 18 years of age, who will be asked to enter a passcode to continue scrolling after an hour.

For users under 13, the limit also will be set to 60 minutes—but a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.

Keenan said TikTok consulted current academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital when deciding how long the time restriction should be.

“Research also shows that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more intentional about the decisions we make,” Keenan said. “So, we’re also prompting teens to set a daily screen time limit, if they opt out of the 60-minute default and spend more than 100 minutes on TikTok in a day.”

According to Keenan, tests that implemented this feature “helped increase the use of our screen time tools by 234%.” In addition to the limit on screen time, the app will also send every teenage account a weekly recap of their screen time.

The video-sharing app will also introduce new features to Family Pairing. Parents or guardians will be able to link their TikTok account to a younger user’s account and custom daily screen time limits will be introduced, which allows families to increase or decrease screen time depending on their schedules (i.e. school holidays).

A screen time dashboard will also be introduced to Family Pairing, providing a breakdown of the number of times TikTok has been opened, and a breakdown of total time spent on the platform during the day and night.

Mute notifications will be introduced, allowing a new setting that enables parents to set a schedule to mute notifications. Accounts held by users aged 13 to 15 already do not receive push notifications after 9 p.m., and accounts aged 16 to 17 have push notifications disabled from 10 p.m.

Studies have shown the effect of TikTok on the brain, with researchers linking it to short attention spans and an increase in ADHD diagnosis in children

Research contact: @nypost

Are we dating the same guy? This Facebook group might know.

February 21, 2023

When The Doors cautioned that “People are strange when you’re a stranger” in their hit 1967 song, it struck an emotional chord among many listeners. And while the Internet was not available back then; today, many of us resort to Googling just to get the lowdown on a blind date, or a new boss.

In fact, even while choosing a new concealer, we often rely on TikTok reviews to find out about others’ experiences. References and reviews wield the power of personal approval—especially when it comes to people and products with which we are unfamiliar.

It’s no surprise then, that at a time when over 320 million people worldwide use dating apps as their primary avenue to meet new people, some daters are seeking reviews of their dates, reports Mashable.

Enter a Facebook group called ‘Are We Dating The Same Guy?‘—a spot where an increasing number of women can verify if their male partners or potential dates are seeing other people, and can take the opportunity to warn each other of glaring “red flags.”

The group started in New York in March 2022, only a couple months after the dreadful West Elm Caleb debacle. If you haven’t heard about it, early last year, several women on TikTok shared their interactions with a 26-year-old furniture designer who notoriously lied and mass-dated on Hinge, only to ghost them soon after.

While it is common in the dating world to explore connections with multiple people at the same time—and dates often inevitably build to the “Are we exclusive?” conversation—lies continue to run wild on these apps. Often, individuals falsely promise monogamy while seeing other people on the side.

Catfishing is another common problem: Every now and then, women on the Facebook group spot fake dating app profiles and flag them to members.

Clearly, online dating can be tricky to navigate when people aren’t always truthful. The Facebook group emerged as a response to these theatrics—typically for women who date men monogamously and can’t seem to tell their partners’ facts from fiction.

This idea of digital stealth checks has now been adapted for major cities across the globe. There are versions for Chicago, Los Angeles, Dubai, London, Paris, Glasgow, Sydney, Brisbane, and Vancouver; and specific groups for Brown girls and Black girls. While the original New York group currently has 75,000 members; the London counterpart, started a few months back, already has over 25,000.

The groups have a robust pre-screening survey to ensure that new members are committed to the cause and all posts must follow a laundry list of rules. Members are allowed to post anonymously—and, while they can share photos of men from the dating apps, no personal information or last names can be revealed.

Additionally, the group prohibits doxxing (publicly exposing any identifying information about a person online), taking screenshots, bullying, victim blaming, or commenting on anyone’s physical appearance. In fact, the women aren’t even allowed to use words like ‘ghosted‘ or ‘weird’ while describing their experiences.

NAnd the most important order of them all—no man is ever allowed to know that he was posted on the group. Of course, there’s no way to ensure this as members are taken in on faith and a digital promise of compliance that they agree to when entering the group. A typical post includes a date’s photo with the caption “any tea” or “any red flags?” and members share personal experiences with the featured man in the comments. 

In one story, a wife discovered her husband was seeing three other women across the United States—all of whom posted about him on the group after having an odd “gut feeling.”

Despite the group’s comprehensive list of rules, its existence and the nature of the posts raise questions about the privacy and safety of the men being discussed, as well as that of the poster. Even if members refrain from sharing last names, it is all too easy to find someone on social media using reverse image searches, their first name, or any other details like a place of work or the city they live in. Not only could this be damaging for the person in question, but these men have not consented to be discussed and dissected on a forum with thousands of strangers.

A quick scroll through the New York City and London groups reveals a buffet of flagged dates with at least 30-40 comments on each post. In one storya woman was warned against dating a man who allegedly fetishizes curvy bodies and is on the “prowl for fat girls on Hinge.”

Em Rina, the London-based author of dating memoir, Girl Get The Wine, heard about the group on TikTok and joined out of curiosity, hoping to find some entertainment. She was single for about five years and uses Hinge and Tinder quite often, so it seemed like a win-win situation. After months of passively scrolling, Rina decided to verify a man she met online and was surprised by the comments.

“About four or five different women came forward and shared similar stories about dating this man. He seems nice on the first date but would get scarily possessive and dominating right after, often screaming and verbally abusing people,” she explains. While Rina may have dodged a bullet, she confirms there are also serious testimonies on the group of women who allege experiencing sexual abuse and rape threats. 

Per a 2022 study conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, 72.3% have experienced threats of sexual violence, harassment, or aggression while engaging with men on dating apps. Given the prevalence of violence against women and girls in society, it’s understandable that groups founded on female solidarity are gaining traction online.

Dr. Sarah Bishop, a London-based clinical psychologist believes the power of these groups also lies in forming a community as an important support base when experiencing abusive behavior or simply going through a negative dating ordeal. “To know that you aren’t the only one to have been cheated on or lied to can add perspective to a situation that is otherwise shameful or a huge ego-blow,” she says.

In fact, it’s this feeling of sisterhood that keeps Whitney King active in the North Carolina group. While the 37-year-old has flagged dates who pressure and coerce women for nudes in the past, she loves seeing how the members support and uplift each other. “Even when two women realize they’re dating the same man, there’s no hostility, it’s just everyone hyping each other up in the comments,” she says.

But there is one possible catch: Dr. Jess Carbino, a former sociologist at Tinder and Bumble believes the groups could do more harm than good. “People could be seeking retribution or fabricating the whole story; there is no way to discern the truth. Also, this isn’t the right place to air stories of abuse. Authorities and people who can make real change need to be involved,” she says, suggesting that reporting abuse directly to dating apps is a more constructive action.

Research contact: @mashable

What the ‘almond mom’ trend on TikTok says about parenting and diet culture

February 7, 2023

It was ten years ago that a conversation between a mother and daughter about eating, on an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills caught the public’s attention, reports Good Morning America.

“I’m feeling really weak. I had like, half an almond,” top model Gigi Hadid—at the time a teenager—told her mom Yolanda Hadid on a 2013 episode of the reality show.

In response, Yolanda Hadid told her daughter, “Have a couple of almonds and chew them really well.”

While Yolanda Hadid later said her comments were taken out of context and came when she was “half asleep” after undergoing surgery, the imprint of a mom seemingly encouraging her daughter to restrict food stuck.

Today, judging from social media, the term “almond mom” is used to refer to a parent who imparts unhealthy food beliefs or disordered eating on their child.

The hashtag #almondmom brings up thousands of videos on TikTok alone of mostly young women impersonating the ways they see their parents, mostly moms, doing everything from limiting their own food intake to questioning their child’s diet choices and over-exercising.

“Are you really hungry or are you just bored,” a woman says in one video, mimicking a so-called almond mom.

“I just got back from my 12-mile walk. I am starving,” another woman impersonating an “almond mom” says in a video, as she measures out two almonds to eat.

Tyler Bender, a 20-year-old digital creator in Denver, has racked up over 144,000 followers on TikTok thanks in large part to the “almond mom” videos she has created since July, when she said she filmed a quick video in a grocery store satirizing what she described as “skinny moms on diets.”

“I went to the nut vending machine and I got like one nut and put [it] in a sack and tied it up,” Bender told Good Morning America. “I just assumed that people would be like, ‘Oh, that’s so weird and quirky,’ and then there have been so many people who related to it.”

She continued, “It’s like a community in the comments, the amount of people that are like, ‘This is healing for me.'”

Bender said she continues to be surprised by how much her videos resonate with people, including her own mom: “My mom watches them and she thinks they’re hilarious, but I know she’s watched them and also been like dialing it back,” Bender said. “I think anybody who watches them knows, like, OK, time to dial it back. I don’t need to be so worried about that all the time.”

Bender said the goal of her videos is not to glamourize or amplify restricted eating, but to use humor to shine a light on the diet culture that pervades families to this day.

“It’s just kind of like raising the flags of, hey, this behavior isn’t normal. If you’re seeing this, say something, or know that it’s not cool and it’s not normal,” she said. “I think it’s made parents more aware of like, ‘I don’t want to pass down my diet culture to my daughter and have her do the diet pills I did, so I’m going to watch my mouth now because kids see everything.'”

The “almond mom” trend on social media comes as eating disorders continue to be an ongoing crisis in the United States. Eating disorders remained second only to opioid overdose as the deadliest mental illness throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with eating disorders responsible for one death every 52 minutes in the U.S., according to data shared by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Nearly 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the organization.

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are diagnosed by specific criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association.

Disordered eating, which is more common, is not a specific diagnosis but describes irregular eating behaviors or a preoccupation with food, weight, and body image, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which represents nutrition and dietetics practitioners.

Virginia Sole-Smith, author of the upcoming book, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture,” said that while it’s clear that home life influences a child’s thoughts on food, it’s “reductive” to think that, as with the “almond mom” trend, it’s moms, alone, who may be causing damage.

“We know that eating disorders have a whole variety of causes, so the mom alone does not cause it,” Sole-Smith told ABC News. “There is a genetic component. There are environmental components, all these different things.”

She continued, “Parents of all genders really influence their kids’ relationships with food and body, and there’s a lot of potential to cause harm there, but it is not limited just to moms.”

That point is echoed by Maya Feller, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, who said the “almond mom” trend does track with research showing the outsized impact parents—not just mothers—have on how kids view food.

“Whatever the family culture of food is shapes the way that kids perceive, and I think that’s separate from gender,” Feller said. “If we see parents who engage in restrictive behaviors, then we know that’s what’s being passed down to the kids.”

Both Feller and Sole-Smith acknowledged that the influence of parents only goes so far, as kids are also impacted by what they see on social media and in pop culture.

Sole-Smith, also author of the Burnt Toast newsletter, said navigating diet culture and fatphobia can be particularly hard for parents. While body-positive role models like Lizzo and even the self-awareness seen in “almond mom” videos are helpful, it’s an uphill battle.

So what’s a parent to do? When it comes to helping raise kids who have healthy relationships with food and eating, parents can start by creating a “safe space” at home, according to both Sole-Smith and Feller.

“Make the home a place where kids’ bodies are respected, trusted, treated with dignity—where their food preferences are respected, treat foods aren’t demonized, and where movement is encouraged in terms of how do you love to move your body, not movement for the sake of body shape,” said Sole-Smith, adding that parents can also talk to their kids about what diet and weight messages they see in pop culture.

Feller also recommends parents be “neutral” when it comes to food. “As a parent myself, of course sometimes I see my kid not having their vegetables and I want to be like, ‘Eat your vegetables,’ but I hold myself back because I’m really not trying to create a hierarchy around food,” she said, adding, “Food is not a reward or punishment. Food is food.”

Feller said parents can also help by offering the structure—a variety of foods, served at regular mealtimes, ideally at a table and not in front of a screen—that will empower their child.

“Then the kid is the one that’s meant to decide if they eat and how much,” said Feller. “There doesn’t have to be the power struggle around what gets consumed.”

Both Feller and Sole-Smith also emphasized that the single best thing parents can do is set a good example with their own actions.

“They learn from watching us much more than they learn from having us count their broccoli bites,” said Sole-Smith, adding of her own approach, “I offer a range of foods that I would like them have access to. I sit down and eat my own meal and enjoy it, and I don’t think very hard about what they’re eating or not eating. And the more I do that, and the more relaxed I am about it, the more they try different foods.”

Research contact: @GMA

Losing face: Weight loss drugs may cause facial aging

January 26, 2023

How many injections are you willing to endure to preserve the structural integrity of your face and derrière? For a certain segment of the 1%, there’s no such thing as too many pricks, reports The New York Times.

After giving birth to her first child at 41, Jennifer Berger struggled to lose the last 20 pounds of the 50 she gained during her high-risk pregnancy. “I was doing a mix of cardio and weights three to five times a week—tracking everything I ate—and I still couldn’t lose that last bit of baby weight,” said Berger, a fashion merchandiser in New York City.

At her wits’ end, Berger visited a doctor who suggested she try tirzepatide, marketed under the brand name Mounjaro, a buzzy new diabetes drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2022. Mounjaro regulates blood sugar, suppresses appetite, and—if one is to believe the hushed accounts recently exchanged at an Upper East Side hair salon—makes excess pounds disappear into thin air.

“Everybody is either on it or asking how to get on it,” said Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York. “We haven’t seen a prescription drug with this much cocktail and dinner chatter since Viagra came to the market.”

The once-a-week injection works in a similar way to semaglutide treatments like Wegovy and Ozempic—the drug rumored, without evidence, to have helped Kim Kardashian fit into the tiny Marilyn Monroe gown she wore to the Met Gala; Kardashian has denied those rumors. In recent months, these drugs have been prescribed so frequently off-label that shortages prevented some diabetics and obese people from getting their medication.

Many doctors worry that the drugs’ current popularity, fueled in part by social media, has resulted in people taking them without sufficient medical supervision — a risky move considering the possibility of rare but serious side effects like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure. And drugs like Ozempic can also cause less serious but still debilitating symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and racing heartbeat, as many videos on TikTok attest (see: #ozempic).

Some of the side effects are “extremely rare if the medication is being prescribed at the right dose and with careful medical supervision,” said Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen, an endocrinologist in New York, who said she has prescribed this family of medication and its predecessors to more than 8,000 patients since 2005.

“Mounjaro is like the Apple 14 of these drugs,” Dr. Salas-Whalen, who did not treat Berger, recently told the Times. Dr. Salas-Whalen said it has the same ability to control blood sugar as Wegovy and Ozempic, but that in her practice, she had seen “almost double the weight loss and close to none of the side effects.”

The FDA has reported that in its clinical trials—which were done on diabetics—patients taking Mounjaro lost, on average, 12 pounds more than those taking drugs like Ozempic. Dr. Salas-Whalen, who has done work for Novo Nordisk, the maker of Wegovy and Ozempic, said she has seen similar results in non-diabetic patients.

While Mounjaro may sound like the closest thing to a weight loss magic bullet since gastric bypass surgery was first performed in 1954, it is not without risk. The Mounjaro packaging contains a black box warning about thyroid C-cell tumors. Like the first generation of these drugs, Mounjaro increased the risk of a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma when it was tested on rodents.

None of these drugs come cheap: Unless a patient is obese and has at least one other “weight-related condition” (such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes), insurance usually won’t cover the medications, which can cost upward of $1,000 for a month’s supply. (Mounjaro is $975 per month; Ozempic, $892; Wegovy, $1,350.)

The rise of the ‘Ozempic face’

Berger, who had undergone fertility treatments to get pregnant, said she didn’t think twice about sticking a needle in her abdomen once a week—or shelling out nearly $1,000 a month for the drug. And Mounjaro lived up to its expectations. Within three months, she had lost those last stubborn 20 pounds.

“It was like flipping a switch,” she said. “I would look at food and it wasn’t even appealing, and I am someone who loves food! I almost had to remind myself to eat. It just took away all the cravings.”

Berger was thrilled with her new body. There was, however, a major downside to losing the weight so quickly. Her face suddenly looked gaunt.

“I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,” she said. “My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old.”

Dr. Oren Tepper, a plastic surgeon in New York, said that it’s common for weight loss to deflate key areas of the face, leading to a more aged appearance. “When it comes to facial aging, fat is typically more friend than foe,” he said. “Weight loss may turn back your biological age, but it tends to turn your facial clock forward.”

Indeed, as Catherine Deneuve is purported to have said: “At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass.” But these days, in certain moneyed circles, that adage no longer seems to apply, with the now common combination of weight-loss drugs and volume-restoring filler.

“I see it every day in my office,” said Dr. Frank, who said he coined the term “Ozempic face” to describe the condition. “A 50-year-old patient will come in, and suddenly, she’s super-skinny and needs filler, which she never needed before. I look at of the time. It’s the drug of choice these days for the 1 percent.”

Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York whose famous patients include Martha Stewart, has observed the same trend in his office. “We are seeing more and more patients on the medications coming in,” he said. “Generally, it’s people in their 40s and 50s who are losing significant amounts of weight and are concerned about facial aging and sagging that occurs as a result.”

While noninvasive procedures like Fraxel can improve skin texture and wrinkles, Dr. Frank said that fillers are the only noninvasive way to restore volume (cost: $5,000 to $10,000). To bring back a youthful fullness to Berger’s face, Dr. Frank injected Radiesse and hyaluronic acid-based fillers in strategic places all over her face — around the temples, under the eyes, in the buccal hollows and around the jawline, the mouth and lips.

To restore volume, Dr. Bhanusali uses Radiesse in combination with Sculptra, an injectable that stimulates collagen production and can last for up to 24 months. (Dr. Bhanusali has been a consultant to Galderma, the maker of Sculptra.) “The idea is to balance the face to offset the hollowing and downward projections at the cheeks, jowls and other areas,” he said.

‘A high-end luxury drug’

Some people suffering from facial wasting caused by rapid weight loss—40 to 50 pounds, say—may require a more radical approach. “When there is this much weight loss, plastic surgery is sometimes the only way to restore the volume loss,” Dr. Tepper said, noting that more than half of the patients he sees for weight-loss-related surgery are taking these drugs.

“The success rates are astonishing,” he said of the drug treatments. “For many patients, it’s like suddenly winning a lottery Mega Millions. But then they realize there’s a tax that comes with it—the loss of fat in the face—so it may not be quite the windfall they imagined.”

Dr. Tepper said he can eliminate any vestige of “Ozempic face” with a deep plane face-lift, which costs $75,000. He typically combines this with a procedure in which fat is transferred from other parts of the body to the face (an additional $8,000 to $12,000).

While the jaw-dropping prices of these treatments are clearly beyond the reach of the average person, for patients like Berger, who stopped taking Mounjaro after she returned to her pre-baby weight, feeling healthy and confident again is worth every penny she spent.

“I can’t tell you how good I feel about myself now,” she said. “I used to hide from my husband when I came out of the shower. I would literally walk backward so he wouldn’t see my backside. Now I don’t care. Because I feel good. I feel like myself again.”

Some doctors say that most patients who are taking these drugs need to stay on them indefinitely to keep the weight off, but Berger maintained the same strict portion control after she stopped taking Mounjaro. It also helped her ease off wine, which some other people taking the drug have noticed as well.

“I learned to find other ways to deal with my stress because I just didn’t have the taste for it,” she said.

Perhaps most important, the drug allowed her to stop obsessing about food and exercise. “Sure, it was expensive,” Berger said. “But you know what? I saved a lot of money on trainers and not buying wine! To be honest, the most expensive thing so far has been buying new clothes.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Happy New Year! Eating 12 grapes at midnight for luck is a tradition that TikTok is crushing hard

January 2, 2023

If you’re hoping for a little bit of good luck in the new year, there are plenty of foods that—according to a variety of globe-spanning traditions—will help ensure favorable circumstances, reports The Washington Post.

In Pennsylvania Dutch families, there sauerkraut is often served. Southerners will swear up and down by a dish of Hoppin’ John to bring a year’s worth of good vibes.

But this New Year’s Eve, many people are preparing to consume 12 grapes as the clock chimes 12 times at midnight—an old ritual with roots in Spain that is finding new life on TikTok.

Videos touting the superstition are circulating (the hashtag #12grapes has 11.5 million views), and in the remix-happy spirit of the social media platform, the practice of eating grapes is getting mashed up with a host of other good luck incantations. Some people are planning to eat their grapes while sitting under tables. Others are planning to wear red underwear, which is actually a part of the Spanish lore.

Some people have posted videos of the partners they claim to have snagged after participating in the ritual, as proof that it works. Others are offering tips on how to accomplish the feat of ingesting a dozen grapes in the span that it takes a clock to chime (small, seedless varieties are the best bet, apparently).

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Experts warn of grim consequences of new cosmetic surgery trend

December 20, 2022

After actress Lea Michele dropped a couple photos on Instagram of her face looking suspiciously hollower than what people expected, social media—Twitter especially —became rife with speculation that she’d had the surgery known as “buccal fat removal,” which removes a pad of fat from the lower face, reports Futurism.

“What the fu*k is buccal fat,” quipped Internet funny person Trash Jones, and “how are they still inventing new flaws for us?”

Buccal fat removal isn’t anything new, but it has quietly gained favor among actors and influencers. And now, it’s getting an unexpected spotlight, too.

“The surgery has been around for many years, but with the advent of social media, I think it’s really seen a resurgence and popularity,” plastic surgeon and buccal fat expert Ira Savetsky recently told The Daily Beast. “The reason why buccal fat pad removal is so popular is because the jawline has become really popular. Everyone wants a snatched jawline, that’s what the kids are saying these days.”

Richard Swift, also a plastic surgeon, believes that Michele and fellow actress Zoë Kravitz have both gone through with the procedure.

“I think Lea and Zoë have much more definition than they had before,” Swift told the Beast. “Zoë Kravitz had more of a baby face, and if you look at the submalar area, that’s really well defined now.”

Buccal fat removal is also relatively cheap, quick, and easy—only taking 20 minutes and $5,000 in New York City, according to Savetsky— making it all the more enticing for influencers to give it a try, as well as their susceptibly insecure followers.

While it may give you those Robert Pattinson-worthy sunken cheeks you always desired in the short term, though, there can be some major downsides as time goes by.

For one thing, you’ll probably be happier if you make peace with how you already look. For another, the procedure may well actually backfire. “The drawback is that from an aesthetic standpoint, facial fat is very precious, and we learned from anatomy studies and studying how people age that as we get older we lose fat in the face,” Savetsky explained. If a patient goes through with the procedure even though they don’t have “excess” buccal fat, “you’re going to look overly hollow as you get older, he said, adding, “Out of every five people that walk into my office that want it, probably only one is a good candidate for it,” he added.

Furthermore, reversing the procedure by adding some healthy fat to the face is difficult and costly. “When I’m doing a facelift for an older woman I am putting fat back into her face,” Savetsky told the Beast, “but adding fat back into that space is very, very difficult, because it’s a deeper area. It’s almost irreversible.”

Unfortunately, that kind of forward thinking hasn’t stopped the surgery from latching on, primarily among young women. There’s even a whole corner of TikTok spotted by the Beast that’s dedicated to the practice of traveling to Mexico, where the procedure is even cheaper, to get buccal pads removed.

“I had mine done in Mexico, Mexicali specifically, and for both surgeries it was $1,735,” one 25-year-old woman told the outlet. “It was $1,400 for the neck/chin lipo and the buccal fat removal cost $300 to add on. $35 for a face garment.”

It’s cheap to buy in, but expensive to back out—so maybe buck this latest buccal trend.

Research contact: @futurism