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What Is the Treat Culture Movement on TikTok?

Mahlet Yordanos
Written By
Mahlet Yordanos
Published On
Jul 12, 2023
An illustration of an ice cream cone against a purple background

One of the few things in life we can control is when we give ourselves a treat.

And no, we’re not just talking about luxury items with jaw-dropping price tags. Treating yourself is more than just buying something for yourself—it’s about doing something simple that makes you feel good and contributes to your well-being. 

This is the treat culture movement in a nutshell. 

Whether it’s taking a bite out of your favourite chocolate bar or going on a walk to reconnect with nature as you sip on a matcha latte, the point is to reward yourself with the little things that make managing everyday stress easier. 

Unsurprisingly, TikTok is driving this treat culture and its treat economy. Let’s dive in and take a close look at why you should join the treat culture movement today! 😋

Where Did This Movement Start?

While #TreatCulture currently has about 248K views on TikTok, no one really knows exactly who popularized the movement on the platform. What we do know is that the idea of “treating yourself” became a cultural phenomenon back in 2011.

We might have Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang to thank for his invention “Treat Yo’ Self Day.” In a season four episode titled “Pawnee Rangers,” characters Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford treat themselves to manicures, fine leather goods, and even sushi made out of fish formerly owned by celebrities. 

Since then, October 13th—the day on which the episode premiered in 2011—has been celebrated as Treat Yo’ Self Day. It’s safe to say this moment in pop culture laid the groundwork for today’s booming treat culture movement. 

So, yes, it’s about a little treat for someone sweet—you!

Wooden blocks that spell out “treat yourself”

Wait, What Is A Treat?

It’s easy to feel like simple treats are too mundane to matter. Like what’s really so special about drinking your favourite latte or going outside for a walk?

Don’t give in to this negativity! What you define as a treat is all contextual because only you get to decide what’s special or meaningful to you. Live in the moment and tell yourself that it’s something you want to do rather than something you have to do. Act on that voice in your head that says “I deserve a little treat for myself.”

People on TikTok are sharing their treat culture adventures that involve going for a walk to get a refreshing popsicle, eating avocado toast, having lunch with friends or family they haven’t seen in a while, or buying themselves flowers. Whatever makes you happy! 

Why We Love The Treat Culture Movement

Quick Escapism

When was the last time you pressed “pause” on life? 

You might think pressing “pause” will interrupt your flow, but that pause doesn’t have to be longer than a few minutes! Sometimes ten is all you need to recharge. It’s about giving yourself a treat that’s fun, quick, easy, and gives you instant happiness. 

Unlike self-care practices like working out or travelling, treating yourself is not something you need to overthink or even plan. The point is to keep it simple! So if that means randomly stepping away from your desk to watch a plane fly by or pet a cute dog at the park, allow yourself a minute to do it—you deserve it! 

Regaining Control

When you’re caught up in the cycle of endless productivity, sometimes it can feel like the only thing that can make you feel happier is a big win. The truth is that waiting for these life-changing, celebratory moments is exhausting. 

Treat culture is here to remind us that while we can’t control everything around us, we do have control over when and how often we take care of ourselves. Devoting a few minutes to yourself amidst the chaos can do wonders. In some cases, it can even be an act of resistance against outside forces trying to bring you down!

Video source: TikTok 

The Science Of Treat Culture

Treat culture isn’t just a TikTok trend; there’s science behind it!

Small treats release endorphins and minimize stress levels. When we relish in these happy moments, that feeling ends up resonating through our bodies, resulting in a cascade of positive neurotransmitters that make us feel joy.  

Conversely, stress can build up in our bodies when we forget to press pause. These rising levels of stress hormones—such as cortisol and adrenaline—are destructive to both physical and mental health when present in excess. The reason why treating yourself feels so rewarding is because it’s actually good for you!

A person treating themselves to chocolate cake

The Treat Economy Has No Room For Self-Indulgence

Moderation is the key to treat culture. The so-called “treat economy” is built on small purchases and actions, not on excess. 

Rewarding yourself in a healthy way that won’t negatively impact you or anyone else is the foundation of this movement. By helping you recharge, treats should incentivize you to go back to your life stronger, better, and happier than before. 

Don’t lose sight of the fine line separating treat culture from self-indulgence. Treat culture is not about promoting the idea of being hyper-focused on only pleasing yourself. Moderation is what keeps things special and exciting! 

Treat Your TikTok Presence To A Makeover

Did you hear that sound? It’s the treat culture movement calling your name

Choose to be happy now. Support the treat economy and make it a habit to give yourself tiny, well-deserved rewards. With that being said, maybe all this TikTok talk has you realizing your social media presence could use a treat as well. 

Look no further than The Influence Agency’s TikTok marketing services to boost your presence on the platform. When you’ve got one of the leading digital marketing agencies in North America fueling your strategies, you’ll reap incredible rewards.

Talk to us now to get started!

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