5 heartwarming communities you might not have known were on TikTok

5 heartwarming communities you might not have known were on TikTok

TikTok is a place where South Asian fashion shines.  (Photo: TikTok/Gaianiwaki)

TikTok is a place where South Asian fashion shines. (Photo: TikTok/Gaianiwaki)

TikTok is a place where South Asian fashion shines. (Photo: TikTok/Gaianiwaki)

TikTok is full of new dances, pranks and trends. Each post is between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long – long enough to get stuck in your head but still short enough to keep you scrolling for more.

However, the app is more than just entertainment. Indeed, it is a platform where many people have found affirming communities of inspiration, joy, and warmth. This has allowed many TikTok users to create spaces for themselves on the app to invest in their own community, meet people, or find inspiration for clothing, food, and art projects.

HuffPost asked TikTok users about the communities they found on the app. You might notice one.

Outdoor fitness for women

Female fitness fans draw attention to themselves on TikTok with brief information and realistic training goals and activities. And in many ways, the makers of the app have put together an alternative version of health and wellness that makes the great outdoors — from sidewalks to hiking trails — seem more accessible and inviting for everyone.

Suzanne Villegas, a sales manager in Diamond Bar, Calif., found a community of other “outdoor” people on TikTok that she frequently visits for workouts and outdoor activities.

“I like being active and looking for new outdoor activities, like a new trail,” said Villegas. “I’m so excited to go on these adventures alone – all my saved posts become my ‘bucket list’ of hikes I want to do, workouts I want to try, or road trips I want to take. And I probably wouldn’t have known about these things if TikTok hadn’t existed.”

Queer Theory and Affirmation

While there is still a lack of queer representation in the media, the folks on TikTok have managed to build the LGBTQ+ community there by spotlighting content about queer sex, mental health support, media and fashion. The app gives people access to various queer communities and acts as a space for creative freedom and resource sharing.

Jessica Harper, a Missouri singer-songwriter, has found validation of her queer identity through the online community under the hashtag #sapphic and beyond.

“The TikToks themselves are fun, but to see everyone participating in the comments and women loving women makes me happy,” Harper said. “Sometimes, especially as a feminine bisexual woman, I feel like my identity is being erased by others or that I’m not seen as queer or queer enough.”

Harper has queer friends in real life but says she also enjoys seeing the lifestyles of other Sapphic adults and families on TikTok because it helps her visualize her own life.

“It was so empowering to see the possibilities,” Harper said.

Aastha Jani, a student at the University of Southern California, also follows queer and nonbinary creators on the app, citing her videos as one of the things that helped them figure out their gender identity.

South Asian fashion inspiration

TikTok is also a place where South Asian fashion shines. Feeling rejected by mainstream media, many South Asians have turned to TikTok to see how their culture is being celebrated rather than appropriated and accurately represented through clothing and accessories.

Misha Hassan turns to the “Get Ready With Me” videos of queer South Asians and takes inspiration from how people often mix Western clothing with traditional pieces.

“I’ve gotten more and more into expressing myself through fashion,” said Hassan, a recent graduate of USC. “When I put outfits together, I feel like I have more responsibility over my presentation to the world. When I see queer South Asians doing the same thing and styling a piece, it inspires me tremendously and helps me express my identity.”

Similarly, Jani finds validation in watching plus size queer fashion videos on TikTok.

“It’s a confidence boost to see people like me being strong in their bodies,” said Jani. “I feel confident, validated and reassured when I see her.”

“Lots of people in there [South Asian diasporas] whitewash our culture, which is disheartening,” they added. “It’s nice to see people who accurately represent our culture and are able to appreciate it. Its relaxing.”

Vegetarian gourmets from all cultures

TikTok is also a place for young chefs passionate about their community’s foods to collect and share the recipes that remind them of their home or upbringing.

For example, Jani finds solace in watching South Asian vegetarian cooking videos on the app. They look for quick Indian meals, vegetarian snacks and even Punjabi food in their feed.

“Even if I don’t have time to cook the recipe, I enjoy watching the videos because they remind me of my family back home,” said Jani. “These YouTubers show our culture in such a great way.”

Hassan also turns to TikTok for food inspiration, watching creators mix “random” ingredients into mainstream dishes or create something with a flavor profile she’s never tried before. She also enjoys watching people make food from their own countries and sharing the stories and methods behind it.

Hair and beauty inspiration for all skin tones and hair types

TikTok has also turned into a playground for hair and beauty inspiration. The app’s short videos make learning a new style easier and faster.

Viviana Collymore, a recent Syracuse University grad, loves TikTok’s minute-long videos and often opens her For You page for curly hair inspiration rather than watching a 20-minute tutorial elsewhere. She often goes to the app to find products or hairstyles to try.

Jani also uses TikTok for beauty content, particularly content created by fellow South Asians.

“I followed a lot of YouTube makeup gurus when I was younger, and they were all white. But on TikTok, I see so many other brown-skinned people recommending brands and products that work on their skin,” Jani said. “The content is niche and tailored to me.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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