The problem with the 10-year challenge

If it makes you feel bad, it's a problem

If the 10-year challenge has been making you feel anxious or generally garbage-y every time you check your social feeds, you’re not alone.

Just a note here that if you participated and it was all in good fun for you, that’s great. There have been some examples of fun and even affirming 10-year challenge posts (like this one, from Munroe Bergdorf).

But if your 10-year “transformation” (aka your existence as an evolving, growing human) doesn’t look like what you’re seeing online, and seeing these posts has been triggering for you, you are valid, you are beautiful, and you have so much to offer. If you meet garbage “beauty ideals” less now than you did 10 years ago or if you aren’t where you hoped you’d be at the age you are now, we’re here to tell you you’re doing amazingly well, you are so worthwhile, and we desperately need you here on this messed up planet.

So here are our top 4 reasons why the 10-year challenge can be problematic:

1. It has the potential to shame people.

The steady stream of glow-ups is all well and good until somebody gets hurt. When people put down who they were (or more accurately what they looked like) 10 years ago, it puts down people who look like that/are like that now. Just like when someone’s talking about how “gross” they look in a bathing suit because of their thighs/arms/whatever and then you’re like wait but my thighs/arms/whatever look like that too, and then you feel ashamed. People may say they’re just talking about themselves, but we all exist in context, and we need to be aware of each other.

2. We’re all just doing our best.

You were doing your best 10 years ago, just like you’re doing your best now. Everyone you’ve ever been is part of who you still are. Don’t put down any of those yous. Shame makes us shrink. Self-compassion helps us grow.

3. Pressure to present as perfect is toxic.

It makes some of us scared to go outside without makeup on or let a new partner see what we actually look like naked. It makes us feel like we can’t speak openly about things we’re struggling with, which holds everyone back from progress. It makes us scared to ask for help when we need it.

4. Not every kind of growth can be represented in a photo.

In fact, the kinds that are most important can’t be. For example, if you haven’t spent the last 10 years trying to make your body smaller, but have spent them making your heart and mind bigger, you should be super proud of that. You can’t post a transformation pic of that.


P.S. Considering a long-distance relationship? There are some key questions you should ask first.

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