On social media, “challenges” are all the rage these days and just about every week, I stumble upon a new one that is gaining popularity. The latest to grab my attention was the #DontJudgeChallenge. For those who haven’t heard of it, the challenge included people posting videos of themselves to Vine, Twitter and Instagram with fake unibrows, drawn on acne, messy hair and glasses. Then, they would transition and show their “true selves”, what they thought defined beauty, which mostly included perfect hair and makeup.
This challenge, which aimed to be body positive and anti-body shaming, drew a lot of criticism due to its judgmental undertones. By the standards shown in most #DontJudge videos, they were essentially saying that people with glasses, unibrows or acne are not beautiful and instead of being uplifting and inspiring, they were demeaning and mocking. Beauty is absolutely personal and it blows my mind that a campaign whose goal was to eliminate body shaming would actually promote this exclusionary message.
Because of this challenge, a new hashtag was introduced by the critics to counter the #DontJudge videos to truly show that there is beauty in everyone, not just those without acne and great eyebrows. The #BeautyInAll hashtag went viral and did a much better job of showing the diversity of beauty our world has and did so without mocking anyone. This hashtag instead focused on loving ourselves, even with all our “flaws”.
Similar to this hashtag war, a beauty blogger, Em Ford recently posted a video entitled “YOU LOOK DISGUSTING” showing some of the genuinely hurtful comments people have made on her pictures and videos. Comments ranged from both judging her appearance without any makeup on to criticizing her for wearing makeup; essentially showing women can never “win” when it comes to beauty and will be criticized for almost anything. The most powerful part of video is the ending line, “You are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Not even yourself.”
While I’m sure the #DontJudgeChallenge started with good intentions, it is important to recognize when a hashtag or challenge is yet again promoting standard ideals of beauty and is being bullying and exclusive. I think the important take away message from all of this is that there isn’t just one strict definition of beauty and that is exactly how it should be. Be proud of who you are and don’t be afraid to share your true self with others.
All you need to be is you. Your true self shines with more beauty than your eyes can even see.