The truth is out there
For some time now, people have been posting photos and videos of themselves on social media platforms to demonstrate how much better they look today than they did when they were younger. These have become known as glow up transformations. Here are some samples from TikTok:
Some of the transformations involve weight loss, skillful application of make-up, and liberal use of filters. In contrast, others are simply a case of people who more nearly meet today's standards of attractiveness as an adult than they did as a youngster. Most all of us go through an awkward stage at some point growing up.
But, with anything popular, there’s bound to be a backlash, and this one went viral.
TikTok user @gabslife99 admitted that she “physically peaked in high school” and challenged others who feel the same way to post before and after pictures. Here are some examples:
It was only a matter of time before celebrities were dragged into the challenge, whether they wanted to be or not.
When I first became aware of this trend, I was bewildered. I’m so used to most people doing everything they can to look as good as possible on social media that the idea of others showing that they’re now over the hill in the looks department struck me as odd and possibly even self-shaming.
Now I’m not so sure. Here are three reasons I think the glow down trend might be a good thing.
Glow downs prove that good looks don’t necessarily endure
Age is a natural process and along with it comes transformation. Our bodies change and, no matter how much we work at it, they’re going to deteriorate.
It’s a fact of life. Facing this early on is important because it reminds us to cultivate skills and attributes we can count on to sustain us when we can no longer rely on our good looks for power, influence, and attention.
It underscores the importance of education, skill-building, learning to appreciate culture, and building sound relationships that will last a lifetime.
The role of make-up, grooming, and filters in looking good on social media becomes obvious
When I was in high school, it became clear that most of the boys were oblivious to girls’ use of makeup.
In those days, the natural look was in, so it was easy to appear like you weren’t wearing any make-up even when you were.
Today, most people are unaware of the amount of effort to create the images we see.
Make-up covers the plastic surgery scars; that luxurious hair isn’t really hers.
The perfect tan didn’t come from the sun; those sculpted thighs and sleek cheekbones are the product of either surgery or clever software. Much of what we see is an illusion. It’s an imitation of life. It isn’t how these people really look.
But too many of us are unaware of that. We look at a photo of Kendall Jenner and think we landed in the shallow end of the gene pool. It’s toxic to compare ourselves to others. But, in the glow downs, people are comparing themselves at different stages of their life. That’s different.
One thing that stands out in the glow down “after” pictures is that they are nearly all void of artifice.
There’s been no use of make-up or filters, no sexy clothes or provocative poses. These pictures show people as they are underneath all that. There’s a refreshing sense of honesty in these photos.
It gives me hope that people are beginning to see that it’s more important for us to accept who we are than to manufacture a fairy tale existence that only exists in pixels on a screen. When we show our true faces to the world, we proclaim that we look good enough for the lives we actually lead.
Self-reflection can lead to positive change
A third possible positive outcome from the glow down challenge is that some people will use it as motivation to make a change for the better.
Perhaps they’ll realize that bad habits, unhealthy relationships, or depression have been responsible for changes they see in themselves that they don’t like.
This awareness may prompt them to seek the help they need to feel better about themselves. How we feel is more important to our self-esteem than how we look. If we feel smart, happy, fulfilled, appreciated, and glad to be alive, we’ve got it made. No amount of beauty products or airbrushing can achieve that. If you focus on the inside, the outside will take care of itself.
©2021, Denise Shelton. All rights reserved.
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