Teen Boys Are Fixating on Their Jawlines

Facial-fitness gum and mewing are trends boys are chewing on
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2024 5:30 AM CDT
Boys Are Eating Up Gum's Claim to Chisel Jawline
Mewing exercises and facial fitness gums are growing trends among teenage boys.   (Getty/Jun)

How social media affects girls' self-image has long been a topic of concern, but now teenage boys seem to be squarely targeted by a trend that focuses above the neckline—specifically at their jaws. And per the Cut, many are turning to an expensive chewing gum that claims to exercise their muscles into a chiseled jawline. To understand this, you might need to add a few new words to your vocabulary

  • Looksmaxxing: Per the BBC, looksmaxxing involves maximizing one's appearance according to a set gendered beauty standard that focuses on the jawline, physique, and eyes. It has roots in the incel community, but it has gained more mainstream appeal on TikTok.
  • Manosphere: This is a subculture meant to counter feminism by emphasizing misogyny and traditional forms of masculinity—including looksmaxxing's standards.
  • Mewing: No, this has nothing to do with kittens. Mewing is a form of looksmaxxing that is meant to help rid boys of their baby faces. Videos claim that tongue exercises can reconstruct the face, but Health.com says it's pretty much bogus (and potentially unhealthy).

So what does any of this have to do with chewing gum? According to the manosphere, achieving a defined jawline is peak looksmaxxing. With social media pushing this ideal on boys, they're now looking for alternatives to expensive facial reconstruction surgery, like mewing, and now, facial-fitness gum. Brands like Rockjaw, Jawz, and Stronger Gum claim their hard-to-chew products will tone and tighten muscles, changing the look of the jawline. When board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla's son asked for a pack, she wanted to get to the root of what was going on. "As a mom, it made me wonder why he was so obsessed with his jawline at age 12, and what social media was feeding him," she tells the Cut.

Facial-fitness gum brands seem to tell a similar story: Modern food is too soft, so we need to get back to our caveman roots (and jawlines) by chewing on dense gum. They come in a variety of shapes and flavors, and the Cut's Jennifer G. Sullivan took one for the team and tested some out. "Within five minutes, my jaw was sore and clicking each time I chomped down on the puttylike wad," she wrote of one brand. While cost is one concerning factor (a single piece of Jawliner gum is 47 cents, compared to 8 cents for a typical stick of gum), some health concerns include additives in different brands, as well as the fact that the gum could cause potential inflammation or jaw pain. (The surgeon general wants warnings on social media.)

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