Throwback Thursday already exists. The compulsion to share photos from our youth – or even just from a vacation you looked hot on two weeks ago — is already a social media staple. Nostalgia reigns supreme on Instagram, an app that glorifies perfection and filters life to its greatest hits so it’s not shocking that the #10YearChallenge has taken off.
It’s exactly what it sounds like — people are sharing split-screen photos of themselves, one from 2009 and one from 2019. It’s also turned into exactly what you would expect: an excuse for people to share their most attractive photos or to #humblebrag about how much better they look now than a decade ago. Otherwise known as the “The How Hard Did Aging Hit You Challenge” and the “Glow-up Challenge,” this exercise in sharing retro pics is supposed to be a commentary on aging well, I guess.
Instead, it has become an exercise in proving that aging doesn’t happen. Sure, people are showing off some embarrassing accessories from 2009, like their statement necklaces and feather earrings, or their too-thin eyebrows, but for the most part people just want to prove they look the exact same — that they are immune to the ravages of time. Take the following celebrities for example:
Wow, in 10 years Jessica Biel went from a hot blonde to a hot brunette. Aging hit her so hard.
I don’t care that you haven’t aged a day in 10 years, DJ Tanner!
OK, it’s actually pretty impressive that Aunt Becky is a vampire from the ’90s. Good for her. And I can’t be mad at Gabrielle Union, the OG of Not Aging Since The ’90s, who basically rendered the entire challenge obsolete by dropping the mic with this post:
That’s like when Will Smith did the “In My Feelings” Challenge on top of a bridge in Budapest and officially killed anyone else’s chances to do it better, or really at all ever again. Gabrielle Union wins. Can this be over now?
Then there’s LeAnn Rimes, who chose to make her caption all about aging, writing, “I love aging! Wisdom comes with a wrinkle or two... and I’ll take it!” except there’s NOT A SINGLE line on her face in her present-day photo. She looks even younger! Annoyed yet?
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I caved... 2009 vs 2019 So crazy to dig into pics from 10 years ago. I LovE aging! Wisdom comes with a wrinkle or two... and I’ll take it! The woman I am in 2019 is way more joyful, settled, connected and peaceful than I was 10 years ago and I’m still expanding into all of these pieces of myself. I am grateful for who I was in 2009, who I am now and every version of me in between. I look forward to creating more smile lines ☺️ #howharddidaginghituchallenge #agingchallenge #agechallenge #2009vs2019 #2009 #2019 #moresmilesin2019
Let’s not forget that these celebs have money and access to the best skincare, trainers and private chefs that make looking younger a lot easier.
Celebrities aside, the regular ass people I follow have also decided to showcase their magical anti-aging powers, with the help of FaceTune no doubt. Here’s my issue: aging is real. Not everyone looks the same, or even better, now than they did 10 years ago. Some of us are actually rocking a few extra pounds and some visible wrinkles. Guess what? That’s OK.
I’m not trying to ruin your fun. Usually, I love jumping on a social media bandwagon. Give me a hashtag and a reason to pose hard and put up a photo where I’m feeling myself and I’m THERE. But I have yet to partake in the #10YearChallenge because it just feels hollow, even more so than Instagram usually feels. Plus, I don’t look exactly the same a decade later (my weave is better and my style has vastly improved, but time did its thing), and it’s none of your business what I looked like in 2009. Don’t feel sorry for me, I still think I look great. Looking younger doesn’t always have to equate to being more beautiful.
Influencer and sexologist Shan Boodram put it best when she got real with her over 200,000 followers about aging and the how insincere this challenge has become.
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#howdidagehityouchallenge ...been waiting for one of y’all over the age of 30 to be honest so here goes: I have mad grey hair, my eyes have lines, I now have sunspots AND acne scars, I can’t eat a muffin without looking like I’m made of them the next day, without glasses or contacts don’t expect me to wave to you in the streets, sometimes when I run my knees are like “please, I beg of thee, turn back!!” But I understand the hair/ makeup game to a science, I have WAY more money, no bullshit drama and I’d much rather have a conversation with myself today. So yea you win some, you lose some ❤️
Insert praise hands emoji. If everyone was using the #10YearChallenge to embrace how normal, but not always glamorous, aging can be, I might be more into it. We know how the world treats women over a certain age. Instead of trying to pretend aging isn’t a thing, or praising people who somehow avoid the physical effects of getting older, why don’t we be honest for once? What about the #AgingHappensToTheBestofUs challenge or the #ItsOKIfYouWereCuterIn2009 challenge. Here’s one: Make Social Media an Actual Depiction of Real-Life Challenge! Just kidding, that will never happen. Let’s just go back to staring at aging-backwards alien, Gabrielle Union.