The 10-Year Challenge Is Total BS — & Here's Why

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.
The "challenge" is 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 ageing well, I guess.
Instead, it has become an exercise in proving that ageing 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. Ageing 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 Ageing 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 ageing! 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. In fact, she looks even younger! Annoyed yet?
Let’s not forget that these celebs have plenty of money and access to the best skin care, trainers, and private chefs in the business, all of which make looking younger a lot easier.
Celebrities aside, the regular-ass people I follow have also decided to showcase their magical anti-ageing powers — with the help of FaceTune, no doubt. Here’s my issue: Ageing 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 ageing, and how insincere this challenge has become.
Insert praise hands emoji. If everyone was using the #10YearChallenge to embrace how normal, and not always glamorous, ageing can be, I might be more into it. We know how the world treats women over a certain age. Instead of trying to pretend ageing 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 ageing-backwards alien, Gabrielle Union.

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