Online trends can twist intention

In the ever changing world of social networking, so called ‘challenges’ have become the most current way of spreading messages, creating links between friends and creating online trends that often come and go within days. The most recent trend to grace our screens is that of the ‘Don’t Judge’ Challenge. This entails people drawing supposed imperfections such as spots and unibrows onto their faces, and gurning into the camera while sporting stereotypically ‘nerdy’ features, such as glasses and greased back hair. Then, on applying a magical cream, and covering the lens with their hand, the previously ugly person is revealed to be magically ‘fixed’, pouting into the camera and showing off their good looks, often with heavy makeup applied and their hair quaffed to perfection.

I am usually not one to criticise those who are confident enough to put themselves out there online, and not one to disparage self confidence in others. As a makeup wearer myself, I wouldn’t dream of criticising the lengths that people go to in order to feel confident in themselves. However, the Don’t Judge Challenge borders on self obsession and plain ignorance.  In the fast paced world of the internet, meanings can be misconstrued and viral messages can be twisted so that they no longer reflect the original poster’s intentions. The trend is alleged to have originated from a video posted by Em Ford. In the video, the beauty blogger shares comments that she has received on pictures posted of her face without makeup, such as ‘her face is so ugly’ and ‘I can’t even look at her’. She then goes on to apply makeup to her natural face, only to show that once wearing makeup, she is often accused of ‘false advertising’ and of being ‘misleading’. The video is a bold demonstration that people are criticised for both covering, and embracing, their flaws, and ultimately shows that often things are not what they appear to be. The video, while showing the harsh world of internet comment sections, also leaves the viewer with the positive message that you are beautiful regardless of the opinions of others.

However, the challenges that the video has inspired manage to completely miss the point that Ford originally intended to make. The ‘before’ shots of the videos are shamelessly offensive, and I am in a state of genuine disbelief that the posters cannot see the issue with drawing on imperfections that they seamlessly remove in the next shot. For anyone who wears glasses, has spots or a unibrow, or in any way resembles the ‘before’ shots, the feeling of seeing your own image portrayed as a parody that is magically solved in the next shot is completely demoralising. Somehow, the posters fail to see the damaging message that their videos convey, and then show off their beautified image, proudly bragging of their good looks. While Ford used the video to showcase her real face, the posters are instead falsifying the before shots, suggesting that it is entirely ridiculous that anyone in real life could actually look that way.

While the videos are on one level a demonstration of the self obsession and vanity that is often bred online, they also warn of the potential for messages to be twisted, leaving a potentially harmful trend in their wake. The internet can be a brilliant place, but also one that is often alienating to those that don’t fit the established norms of beauty. The massively hypocritical Don’t Judge Challenge only perpetuates that idea.

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