If you’ve noticed that some of the biggest stars have their mouths positioned in a very specific way when posing for pictures, you’re likely picking up on mewing. This technique involves touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth to create a more defined jaw look. Experts speculate that Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid and Jennifer Lopez are among the celebrities that are mewing in photos. Is this trend worthwhile? See what the experts have to say.
What is mewing?
“The idea is that you reposition your tongue so it’s touching the roof of your mouth. By repositioning your tongue in this way, it will give the appearance of a more sculpted and defined jawline,” explains London plastic surgeon Yannis Alexandrides, MD. “It was apparently made popular by British orthodontists John and Mike Mew, hence the term ‘mewing.’” The technique can be used as a workout for those muscles or a quick fix for photos.
How to mew
“Simply push your tongue, particularly the mid and back of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (the hard and soft palate—as if you are generating a swallow, then hold it),” explains New York facial plastic surgeon Lee Ann M. Klausner, MD. “You can also do it while smiling to further elevate the mylohyoid and digastric muscles.” She notes that anyone familiar with yoga in pregnancy knows about “sustained compressed contraction of the abdominal wall in order to correct diastasis from pregnancy.” Mewing is a similar application. “Getting your muscles to coordinate to extend the strap muscles in the neck and elevate the floor of the mouth can be a challenge, and people interested in isolating these muscles should attempt the contraction while looking in the mirror.”
Mewing has been around for years
Although mewing is trending right now among our favorite stars, Dr. Klausner says she’s been ahead of the trend for years. “I have been ‘mewing’ for years and recommending it to my patients. However, I never called it mewing. I always referred to it as neck pilates or facial yoga,” she says. Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby says in the past, she’s heard it referred to as “chewing gum.”
Mewing as an exercise
Mewing involves “shifting the natural resting position of the tongue to the roof of your mouth, which creates a workout for the jaw muscles and under the chin area,” explains Dr. Allenby. This practice helps redefine and strengthen the jawline.
Mewing as a quick fix
Medical aesthetician Amy Peterson notes that mewing is also often used when taking photos. It helps the jaw appear sharper and can reduce the appearance of a double chin.
Does mewing actually work?
The experts are fairly split on how well mewing actually works. “Do pilates and yoga work? I think some patients who perform these exercises may see results depending on technique and frequency,” says Dr. Klausner. “We see ballet dancers tend to have long necks. We can see the impact of brass rings on the necks of the women in the Kayan tribe from Myanmar. These rings maximize the natural neck extension and tend to do so by pushing the collarbone and shoulders down.”
Peterson believes “mewing can be effective, but it is a very subtle and temporary fix. It will not completely restructure your face, and it will lose its effect as soon as you rest your tongue back in its normal position.” Dr. Alexandrides is more skeptical, noting “that there is no scientific research or factual evidence to prove this technique actually works or is effective in defining and giving a contoured look to the jawline.”
Posture is also important
Dr. Klausner says we should consider the merits of good posture as it relates to this. “It’s not only about standing up straight and doing what you can to strengthen the anterior neck strap muscles and floor of mouth muscles to preserve a desirable neck contour but also strengthening the posterior neck and back muscles to prevent rounding of the spine,” she explains noting that a holistic approach is the best. “There are other exercises with the tongue that can be used to elevate the right and left floor of the mouth. Being mindful to smile can help offset the down turning of the mouth that can be seen with aging.”
More permanent solutions
Dr. Allenby notes that the effects of mewing are temporary. If you want a more permanent change, you may want to seek an in-office treatment. The jawline can become reduced due to weight loss or aging, says Dr. Allenby. To her, the real fix “is using fillers designed to be a little stiffer to mimic the shape of a more robust jawline” like Juvederm Volux and Radiesse.
Dr. Klausner says botulinum toxin to the masseter or fillers to the chin, jawline and cheeks can help. “Ultrasound skin tightening can give individuals a more defined jawline when there is lax skin around the jawline.” In younger patients in which this is a hereditary feature submental liposuction, FaceTite and Morpheus8 micro needling can work well, she adds. Some patients may require a “facelift/neck lift with submental liposuction and platysmaplasty and depending on indication chin implant or other jawline implants,” says Dr. Klausner.