Viral trend: Can ‘mewing’ make you more attractive?
Blame it on YouTube’s algorithm. Watch enough beauty videos on the site – makeup hacks, serum reviews, Liv Tyler’s 25-step skincare routine – and something strange appears in the recommendations. You’ll find video testimonials from young people who claim to have made their faces more attractive with months of specific tongue and mouth exercises.
The before-after montage is subtle. Faces end up looking marginally more angular, jaws sharper, eyes deeper set – kind of like your selfie got an Eddie Redmayne or Blake Lively filter.
The technique, called Mewing but unrelated to cats, requires no braces, injections or equipment. It’s just different way of training your tongue to rest inside your mouth. Could it be that easy?
Mewing is named for British oral reconstruction surgeon John Mew and his son, Mike. In the 1970s, Mew Sr developed a series of mouth exercises to gently readjust skull bones, strengthening the palate and helping to correct overbites. Mew Jr has been popularising the techniques as a way to make yourself ‘hotter’, much to the chagrin of orthodontic associations.
There’s almost no independent scientific evidence that it works. Nonetheless, Mewing is something of a viral trend among those looking to get sharper features for free. Most users are in their teens – there’s no way of knowing if the skeletal changes were brought on by adulthood.
On YouTube, a video titled How Mewing Changed My Life in 4 Months outlines 22-year-old user thepeachyginger’s experiences. “My bottom jaw receded, my teeth don’t gnash, I felt my jawline getting stronger, my chin is more defined and my upper cheekbone is more apparent,” he says.
“Even if you assume it works, there’s no proof that it is permanent, or that the same tongue posture will work the same way for every skull shape,” says Dr Dinesh Jain, who has an established dental practice in Mumbai. “Several tongue exercises might have the opposite effect to the one you intended; some could even push your jaw backwards over time.”
It’s probably a pointless exercise, Dr Jain adds. “Looking good or ugly is all a matter of perspective. And if you think you end up looking better, it’s probably auto-suggestion therapy.”
Which means you probably looked fine to begin with.