Disturbed young men in women-hating 'incel' cult are hammering their faces in a bid to improve their looks and achieve the facial shape idealised in their toxic online forums

Daily Mail, UK/November 12, 2022

By Cormac Connelly-Smith

Disturbed young men are resorting to hitting themselves in the face with hammers to try to look more attractive.

They are ‘involuntary celibates’ or ‘incels’, part of a misogynistic subculture on shady online forums where users exchange fantasies about rape and mass murder.

Members believe in a conspiracy theory called ‘black pill’, a nihilistic ideology which preaches that its followers are doomed to a life without sex or relationships due to their genetic appearance.

Filmmaker Ben Zand, who investigated British incels for a new Channel 4 documentary, said: ‘The ideology tells you that if you are not attractive, you don’t have any hope. That leaves you with three possible outcomes – you can kill yourself, you can kill other people, or the one redemptive option is radically changing your appearance.’

Many incels practise so-called ‘looksmaxxing’ – activities to boost their appearance, including extreme gym usage, testosterone-taking and reconstructive surgery. To achieve the facial shape idealised online – narrow eyes, prominent cheekbones and a pronounced jawbone – some ‘looksmaxxers’ have resorted to subjecting their facial bones to repeated trauma. Using their hands, blunt instruments or hammers, they repeatedly hit themselves in the belief that it will stimulate bone growth and change their appearance, a practice known as ‘bone-smashing’.

Looksmaxxing influencer William Li, who does not identify as an incel, said he had seen ‘temporary’ progress with bone-smashing. He added: ‘At first I was using my hands to just tap on my chin, on my mandible and on my brow ridge occasionally, but it was mainly my chin.

‘Eventually I started using a massage gun to do it for me, but I realised that was way too harsh and left bruising on my chin.’

Male model Austin Wayne said he endured bone-smashing up to three times a day when struggling with his appearance as a 17-year-old.

He said: ‘I was a very insecure kid and I kept noticing all these imperfections in my face.

‘I used my hands and would just tap along my jaw and chin where I wanted to see growth. I’m no expert on it but I believed it worked for me.

‘I now realise it is very extreme and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for people to do.’

There is no established medical basis for the claims made about bone-smashing, which is linked to discredited scientific beliefs. Incels’ violent hatred has occasionally spilled into the real world, with tragic results.

Jake Davison, 22, who shot dead five people in Plymouth last year, had posted numerous videos online espousing extreme incel views.

Mr Zand’s research for the documentary suggested there were up to 3,000 incels in Britain.

A recent study by the Centre For Countering Digital Hate found that posts about mass murder had soared by 59 per cent in the past year on the web’s most popular incel sites.

Mr Zand said: ‘All the signs are pointing to the number of incels increasing in this country.

‘Membership of the most popular incel forum is going up and up every year and a proportion of those members are British. They are lonely men who have lost their sense of community and the only places where they can find community are on these very dark websites.’

Untold: The Secret World Of Incels is available to watch now on All4.

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