What Is Looksmaxxing And Why Does It Matter? - Bubblegum Club

What Is Looksmaxxing And Why Does It Matter?

Memes like Yes Chad and GigaChad are epically hilarious, but there are places on the Internet where young men genuinely idolize these supposedly unserious icons of exceptional male attractiveness. The TikTok trend “looksmaxxing” promotes an almost identical “ideal” male look, characterised by chiselled jaws, “hunter eyes”, bulky muscles and ultra-masculinity. While it is said to boost confidence and potential, the trend has been known to promote extreme practices that often perpetuate toxic masculinity and straight-up bigotry. 

Yes Chad Meme. Image courtesy of Know Your Meme
GigaChad Meme. Image courtesy of X.com


Incels (left) and Chads (right). Image courtesy of Incel Wiki via mvviewer.org
Incel vs Chad Meme. Image courtesy of Incel Wiki via thegadflymagazine.org

Since the 2010s, social media platforms like Instagram have amplified society’s fixation on appearance, which affects all genders. However, as men’s societal roles have become less defined, the emphasis on their appearance has grown. In addition, the clear gender imbalance on dating apps like Tinder has meant that young men are in far greater competition with one another, leading to toxic phenomena like incel communities, designed for those frustrated with their failure to find mates, and looking for support and solutions. 

According to Hockerty, looksmaxxing for men involves a holistic approach to appearance enhancement through skincare routines, nutrition, fitness and professional treatments. Looksmaxxing techniques like softmaxxing and facemaxxing achieve a natural glow-up. The trend also promotes personal style through high-quality clothing, well-groomed hair, good posture and oral hygiene. But, of course, the trend is not as harmless as it appears. Plastic surgery, mewing, steroid use and bone smashing are encouraged to give men an extra edge.

Kareem Shami aka @syrianpsycho, who has nearly 2 million followers on TikTok, is a prominent example of the trend’s potential dangers. The 22-year-old college student from San Diego is known to have gone to extreme measures such as cosmetic surgery and steroid use to combat his struggles with physical insecurity. With millions of subscribers, the trend is no joke and reflects broader anxieties around masculinity, modern dating dynamics, and societal shifts in gender roles. It’s like looksmaxxing is young men’s cry for help.

Ella Markianos’ Gadfly article explores how the incel community’s fixation on male beauty ideals as epitomized by the concept of “Chad” is portrayed on the incel wiki. It details how incels obsess over specific physical features and engage in looksmaxxing practices in their quest to achieve societal acceptance and escape inceldom. The BBC article by Riley Farrell examines the growing trend and its problematic roots in online incel communities, noting the influence of violent characters like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (2000). 

Violence is already a cornerstone of incel culture and looksmaxxing is an extension of this. For instance, the CBC documentary The Secret World of Incels (2023) features filmmaker Ben Zand meeting an incel influencer who promotes a looksmaxxing technique where individuals are to use a hammer to alter their facial features. Simon Usborne’s article From bone smashing to chin extensions: how ‘looksmaxxing’ is reshaping young men’s faces in The Guardian, talks about how the trend purports to enhance young men’s “sexual market value” but there’s no focus on women’s roles and preferences.

The trend’s potential mental health risks are also concerning. Extreme looksmaxxing methods are often associated with eating disorders and steroid abuse. If all of this was not concerning enough, what really takes this trend over the edge is its perpetuation of harmful ideologies like sexual and racial prejudice. Chad, as we know him, is a racialised figure, represented by a perhaps Nordic, almost Arian-looking figure, showing how “lookism”, a prejudice based on physical appearance, is a central component of looksmaxxing.

Looksmaxxing is rising in popularity among young men and boys. Image courtesy of Grace Campbell for the Fordham Ram


Alex Eubank, a bodybuilder: influencer who admits to being “excessively” lean. Image courtesy of @alexeubank on Instagram via mvviewer.org


Sam Sulek, TikTok influencer: bodybuilder who admits to using steroids. Image courtesy of @samsulek on Instagram via mvviewer.org

In addition to lookism, which perpetuates stereotypes linking attractiveness with positive traits, there are clear implications of racial prejudice within looksmaxxing culture. Put simply, the trend emphasises optimising physical appearance based on Eurocentric standards. Terms like “racemaxxing” are common, shamelessly promoting the idea that lighter skin and Western facial features are inherently superior. These ideologies reinforce historical racial dynamics and contribute to societal pressures that disproportionately affect people of colour.

An article by Sarah Held explores how looksmaxxing promotes toxic body ideals that align with National Socialist aesthetics. Incels, who blame women for their lack of sexual success, engage in misogynistic and racist online communities that idealise specific body types and draw from cultural references that include Nazi imagery and homophobia. The perpetuation of fragile masculinity by such movements is harmful, not only to young men but to society as a whole as it impacts global societal perceptions and gender norms.

Don’t get me wrongthere is nothing wrong with young men focusing on genuine self-improvement through self-care and cosmetic enhancements if it helps them navigate life’s challenges. Prioritising health, fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being undoubtedly leads to a better quality of life. But beyond the surface, looksmaxxing has concerning ties to the resurgence of right-wing ideals. For now, the trend may simply apply to physical appearance and sexual marketability, but we already know where it could lead if left unchecked. 

Suggested Posts



Get our newsletter straight to your mailbox