From time to time, a TikTok trend brings the internet more than some entertainment for a few weeks.
Some trends start up conversations about serious issues, and the ‘almond mom’ trend is a great example of this. This trend has got people discussing how parents’ toxic attitudes about weight and food can negatively influence a child’s body image.
Whilst the topic of diet culture has been relatively well discussed online, the almond mom trend has got more people than ever talking about how pervasive diet culture is in all areas of society, even in family life.
But first, what exactly is an ‘almond mom’?
According to TikTok, an ‘almond mom’ is a parent who projects unhealthy attitudes towards weight and food onto their child. This projection can look like constant comments about their weight or their food intake, involving their children in their latest diet or extreme exercise regime, or severely controlling their child’s food choices.
Whilst this term emerged late last year, it comes from a decade-old episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In this episode, Gigi Hadid, now a renowned model, calls her mom, complaining that she feels weak and faint. Gigi mentions that she has only eaten “half an almond” that day. Her mother, Yolanda Hadid, tells Gigi to “have a couple of almonds and chew them really well” in place of eating an actual meal. From this episode, the term ‘almond mom’ was born.
It’s not just mothers who can be ‘almond’
The emergence of the term ‘almond mom’ also brought about another term: ‘Apple Watch Dad’. This term refers to a dad who is obsessed with fitness, roping their children into joining their intense fitness regimes or making sure everyone gets their steps in for the day.
Clearly, the almond mom trend brought about a new focus on unhealthy attitudes to weight in family life. As such, various terms have been created to describe these sorts of parents or figures. If both parents project unhealthy ideas, the term ‘almond parents’ or ‘almond household’ is usually used. Some users came up with hyper-specific terms for different varieties of ‘almond’ family members. TikToker Laura (@dietcoke0fficial) has what she terms a ‘keto doctor dad’ and a ‘gym bro brother’.
Why are people suddenly talking about almond moms?
After the term was coined, it seemed like social media was awash with videos discussing almond moms. In most videos, people will act out how an almond mom behaves. Generally, this includes them repeating Kate Moss-inspired phrases about thinness and eating barely anything. Much of the trend is light-hearted, as creators spoof almond mom behaviour by emphasising the ridiculousness of their obsession with losing weight.
TikToker Tyler Bender (@tyler.benderr) has made numerous almond mom skits which showcase the goofiness of almond moms and their habits. In an interview for this article, Tyler explained that both her parents are “quite “almond” and most of her early videos were based on her own experience growing up with almond parents.
Whilst many almond mom videos are funny, the discussion this trend has sparked is much more serious. Tyler herself said that the almond mom trend “IS making light of the issue” of toxic diet culture in families. However, she believes that the comedy aspect is what makes this trend so effective in raising awareness. She explained that:
“Comedy makes something that’s rather traumatizing and awkward to talk about… a little easier to discuss. trend IS making light of the issue. I know my videos have been played in countless households and started so many important conversations around body image and diet culture.”
Comment sections under Tyler’s videos are full of people who relate to growing up with an almond mom or dad. Whilst this trend pokes fun at almond moms, it has started discussions about the impact of parents’ attitudes to food and eating on children. What a child hears at home is what begins to shape their own views and attitudes. If all they hear at home is about losing weight, needing to be thin, only eating clean and exercising obsessively, they may believe this is the ‘right’ way to think about food and weight.
The impacts of growing up with an almond mom or almond parents last long after you leave home
People who grew up with an almond mom or dad tend to suffer from poor body image and disordered eating. Tyler described the continuous influence of her mother’s attitudes to food, as she now has what she calls an inner “almond voice” which berates her about her food choices, exercise habits, and weight. She also mentioned that she struggled with restrictive eating as a response to growing up with an almond mom. Tyler is not alone in this, as most of the people who engage with this trend continue to face body image and food-related issues, as evidenced by the abundance of content and comments about almond moms.
Whilst social media is usually posited as causing poor body image, it is not the only cause. This trend has shown that we are often first introduced to diet culture by our parents. Additionally, it has helped people begin to unlearn these toxic beliefs and ‘reparent’ themselves with body positivity and intuitive eating.