'I got addicted to the looksmaxxing beauty trend – it's so dangerous'

Kseniya Didik, 21-year-old from Russia
-Credit: (Image: Kseniya Didik)

It's normal to have insecurities about your appearance.

No one is perfect – and it's likely everyone has a thing or two they'd like to change about themselves if they had a magic wand. Sadly though, some are taking their quests to perfection too far.

Kseniya Didik revealed how young women are getting sucked into an unsettling trend called "looksmaxxing". It involves altering your physical appearance in the quest to meet beauty standards.

Some do this through changing their beauty regime, but others go as far as trying dangerous procedures or getting plastic surgery to change their look. Some even resort to "starvemaxxing", which is the troubling belief that you should stop eating to look more chiselled.

Kseniya, a 21-year-old from Russia, spoke candidly about how the trend impacted her. She told us: "I’ve always been insecure about not fitting in, I guess. I was bigger than most girls at five, then I was the only one with acne, then I was the late bloomer-ugly duckling in a class full of beautiful girls in high school.

"I started taking part in beautifying rituals around 12... I also slipped into eating disorder territory around the same time, because I thought I was so big and ugly compared to other girls, when looking back, I wasn’t even big...

"But really looksmaxxing has always been present in my life, consciously and subconsciously – from the women in my family having rigorous skincare, makeup and dieting routines to magazine tips and permeating advertising. So, I’d probably engage in it regardless of circumstance."

Kseniya Didik spoke candidly about 'looksmaxxing' and her 'addiction' to facial procedures -Credit:Kseniya

Kseniya's pursuit of 'looksmaxxing' has typically centred around facial procedures. Before she even reached adulthood, she'd tried pore extractions and laser resurfacing to banish acne scars.

Then as she approached 18, she fantasised about getting lip filler, eye bag surgery and a nose job done. The young woman was also fixated on her weight. Worryingly, her diet became so unhealthy that it even stopped her menstrual cycle.

Today, she spends around seven hours a week 'maintaining her appearance' - excluding salon visits, treatments and working out. She continued: "On one hand, it has a great effect on my self-esteem – looking good and put-together makes me feel good in return.

"It gives a sense of control as well – even on the most hectic day, I know I’m gonna do my skincare routine, at least... On the other hand, looksmaxxing requires a lot of time and money. And it’s addicting... The median monthly income in my region is about 59’000 rubles a month (£526). I'd need about a third of that for my regimen."

Some believe looksmaxxing is rooted in sexism – whether it be society's unfair standards or 'incel' men demanding women aim for an unattainable standard of beauty.

Kseniya does not feel sucked into this though – and sees the trend as a way to connect with other women like her. She added: "I sought out communities specifically for women, or centred around specific issues, and they're nothing like that. Just a group of like-minded people sharing their experiences and trying to help each other."

Following this interview, counsellor Georgina Sturmer, has stressed anyone tempted by looksmaxxing should seek help. She said: "If we are drawn towards [this]... it’s likely that there are some strong underlying emotional motivations.

"We might be struggling with our self-esteem, feeling anxious, depressed or isolated. Or we might find ourselves trying to regain a sense of control when everything around us feels overwhelming... There are plenty of organisations out there who are ready and willing to help."

Dr Lawrence Cunningham, a GP at the UK Care Guide, also added: "Maintaining physical appearance through healthy lifestyle choices is normal and can be beneficial. However, the line should be drawn when such practices become extreme and harmful.

"Building a network of positive influences, whether through friends, family, or professional counsellors, can make a significant difference in one's mental and physical health."

If you're worried about your health or the health of somebody else, you can contact SEED eating disorder support service on 01482 718130 or on their website.