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#DontJudgeChallenge Is Totally Awful and Downright Elizabethan

Challenging our understanding of beauty is a positive thing, just not the way these teens are doing it.

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If you’ve noticed that your Facebook and Instagram feeds have been hijacked by teens with huge eyebrows and drawn on blemishes, you’re not alone. The “DontJudgeChallenge, and #DontJudgeChallange, the ginger stepchild version of the hashtag with a misplaced letter ‘A’, both seem to be gaining momentum almost as insane as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of last summer.

The idea behind this is supposedly to challenge beauty standards by showing that underneath every “ugly” person lies a beautiful one. But some suspect it’s just one big advertisement for Musical.ly the social platform where these videos first appeared. Not only are these videos embarrassingly counterproductive to challenging beauty perceptions, they’re totally Elizabethan too.

Participants show themselves as ugly, with drawn on blemishes, ridiculous lipstick, and even glasses, gasp! Then, SURPRISE! they aren’t ugly after all:


Really, the whole thing is quite Elizabethan. These teens aren’t the only ones who have intentionally blacked out their teeth for the sake of a trend. Women in 16th century England reportedly rubbed soot into their teeth so they could have “beautiful” incisors and bi-cuspids, like Queen Elizabeth I’s rotted ones. LOL, remember when a receding hairline paired with a huge wig to show how much hair on your forehead you didn’t have was perfection? Yes, that was a thing. It’s suspected that the queen lost some of her hair and eyebrows after she suffered a bout of smallpox, leading many women to pluck their hair out daily to emulate the queen’s high forehead look. 

Queen_Elizabeth_I_from_NPG_(4)_optGranted, the difference between teens today and their Elizabethan counterparts is that those traits which are now being mocked on Instagram were considered actually beautiful 600ish years ago. We can probably all agree now that the beauty routines of the 16th century were ridiculous. Our descendants in the 26th century will probably laugh at our use of airbrushing and Photoshop. So it’s fair to question what we consider beautiful today, because as history has taught us, our standards are often quite ridiculous.

Challenging our understanding of beauty is a positive thing – just not the way these teens are doing it. Those who really do wear glasses (which are totally sexy btw) or struggle with acne won’t feel better about themselves after watching those videos. Seriously, these videos almost poke fun at other efforts that actually do some good – like the one former model, Em Ford, posted on her YouTube blog last week:

Unlike the video above, teens mollifying themselves with eyeliner isn’t challenging anyone’s understanding of beauty. By painting themselves as an exaggerated version of the stereotypical ugly person, they’re really just perpetuating the stereotypes others are trying to fight.