Has Glow-Up Culture Took a Turn for the Worse?


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Louisa Snell, Opinion Editor

“Glowing up,” according to Google, is the process of becoming more mature and confident with yourself, both mentally and physically. However, ever since social media like TikTok and Instagram started blowing up, glow-up culture has taken a turn for the worse. The toxic evolution of glow-up culture has turned the concept of mentally and physically improving your lifestyle into a purely physical transformation, which discards the whole idea of working towards bettering yourself mentally as well. 

It has become a common trend that people share “before and after” pictures on social media and have glow-ups for their birthdays. If you search up “glow up” on YouTube, you’ll find videos of people glowing up in an hour or two, so they look good for an event or just because they’ve been in a slump. 

I think it’s mostly the “in a slump” glow-ups that really abandon the true meaning of glowing up. For example, if you’re in a depressed state, the best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on glowing up mentally, and with that, improving your lifestyle. But ever since glowing up has evolved into a physical transformation, people have started to ditch that step, and have instead gone to dye their hair or do their makeup and call it a day.

  But this evolution of glow-up culture has not only negatively affected people’s mental health, but put more pressure on teenagers (especially women) to somehow become prettier and grow into their bodies quicker. This pressure and expectation, however, has been going on for longer than just when social media blew up. We see in our everyday lives this beauty standard set for women- for example, hasn’t every Disney channel movie included a nerdy-girl-turns-beautiful montage? Girls grow up with this impossible expectation that they need to magically transform themselves, and glow-up culture strengthens this pressure by forcing a purely physical glow-up while leaving your internal state to wither. 

In the end, the evolution of glow-up culture has failed to bring up confidence and assist people’s internal transformations. I’m all for a self-aware, mentally progressive glow up, but that encouraging culture has fallen into society’s hands.