Toxicity of Glow Up Culture
We have been there, scrolling through Instagram at midnight, and a new photo, with that a new expectation, comes with each swipe. Over the past few years, as social media has grown into a warped reality, online movements treading on the delicate lines of morality have expressed themselves in our daily discourse: one of them is the 'Glow-Up.'
Scarily, there were a few recommendations on this topic in the 'people also ask' section of google. One was,' What age do you usually glow up at? '; I have a feeling that the ones asking these questions are not adults.
When criticising the 'glow-up' culture, there is a challenge, maybe because it is not frequently criticised. Even though the interpretations are so crudely placed and include the word 'ugly,' it is seen as celebratory, especially among women, as encouraging and rewarding. As we should take every opportunity to unify, this makes it harder to challenge. It's very hard to unpick its weaknesses once a pattern like this is rooted in our culture; to see it as harmful, when it seems to be anything but on the surface.
'glow-up' doesn't sound bad at all when isolating the sentence. As a compliment, it's too easy to mistake: it's pretty-sounding and implies a new-found radiance; but strip it back and it's plain to see its unsettling basis with little effort.
This is illustrated by the online meaning, but without the use of rude adjectives, a 'glow-up' refers to a transition, classified by desirability. This dilutes and undermines the personal process of evolution of a person, which counts for so much more than what we see on Instagram in a small square. It's a blatant euphemism to suggest somebody has had a 'glow-up': the berating of the previous appearance of an individual, yet vulgarly disguised in positivity and help.
A few months ago, I checked Twitter and saw that Adele was trending with nearly 500,000 tweets. I understood precisely what this was about. On Instagram, on which she seldom shares, her birthday image got so much attention that it bordered on invasive. The comment section alluded to a 'break-up bod' showing her hard work and numerous 'what a big transformation of your body! ’. Famous users were also involved in these comments:' the biggest glow-up since...' and 'The WAIST IS SNATCHED' were from blue-ticked accounts. I was forced to switch off. The volume in that section of comments, created largely by unprovoked responses to the physical change of a woman, is deafening, and categorically incorrect. Adele did not speak about her body in her post, instead mentioning front-line workers, so why did so many users feel that they should? And where was the go-ahead that this was all right? If we blindly indulge in a movement that normalises without their permission to speak on the body of an individual, then we fuel too many morally corrupt notions that weaken and dissolve the autonomy of the body. This is the body of a single individual, and this is objectification.
That's demoralising. How have unwanted, distasteful remarks on improvements in the appearance of a person, that in 'fact' would be shut down as unacceptable in conversation, been allowed to expand and distort into an entire objectification culture? It's so wrong and it's even more unfair that this isn't something that we are actively encouraging. Veiled by social media,' Glow-Up' culture is obviously a shield, behind which the obvious right to comment on the looks and physical changes of others is hidden: when was this ever okay? It's not motivating, in the same way that catcalling is not open. It is infringing and harmful. Your body is your own, and, in any way, any violation is incorrect.
It's not about Adele here. It is not about slowing down our compassion for each other. This is about recognising the larger influence of online culture and pointing out disgusting patterns that deem any person to be defective, inferior, or lower than another. It's about recognising that, for too long, we've been adhering to a social discourse that turns us into pressure cookers of self-doubt and inadequacy, primarily based on appearance, regarding those people as inferior.
The culture of 'Glow-Up' is quietly dangerous. The act of praising and embracing each other has been twisted into the right to make unjustified remarks on the appearance of a human. Our bodies are our own; the journeys we make, the changes we endure. Nobody else is in a position to speak about your body, to tweet or express their thoughts. And there's no such occurrence as a 'glow-up' because, at every moment, we are already glowing, and we are enough.