This summer, we grow out of the social need to “glow up.”

Summer’s almost here. Along with the snow, our layers of clothes are dispersing too.

Our YouTube and TikTok timelines are now flooded with videos on “how to lose weight fast,” “how to get the perfect bikini body,” and “how to grow prettier overnight.”

Google ads are now conveniently recommending gyms, spray tan equipment, beauty salons, and everything else pointing towards one specific idea—you need to glow up.

A girl's friends doing her hair and styling.

What is a “glow up”

According to the Urban Dictionary, a “glow up” is when someone transforms from being ugly to pretty or stunning.

Mia from The Princess Diaries holding her "before and after makeover" photos.

Like Vivian’s transformation in Pretty Lady, or Allison’s makeover in The Breakfast Club, or Tai’s from Clueless, and Mia’s in The Princess Diaries (basically ever Hollywood makeover scene ever!)

A “glow up” is when a person physically transforms themselves to match social beauty standards.

Why you don’t need to glow up

Woman saying, "There's no need for that."

Saying people don’t need to be bothered by beauty standards and actually not being bothered by such standards are two separate things, we get that.

With “pretty privilege” still being an inherent part of our society, it can be difficult to not want to fit into these standards.

Glow up journeys fueled by social expectations and toxic remedies are harmful and here’s why you don’t need them:

Dramatic transformations are unhealthy

A man and a woman dramatically transform from being fat to thin by wearing a slimming belt.
The ‘A’ in this advertisement stands for amazing photoshop skills.

Pills, extreme workout regimes, and paper diets are some of the many unhealthy remedies social media suggests to help us.

While some of them might show results, such drastic transformations are harmful and come with their share of side-effects.

Mental health issues, digestive problems, gout attacks, and impaired immunity are few of the many health issues triggered by dramatic body transformations and weight loss.

Increases self-loathing

A person writes on a white board.
Dear diary,
Roses are red,
and I'm depressed,
Cus I'm fat.

Constantly looking at your appearance with a critical eye to add stuff onto your “glow up” to-do-list is bound to amplify your insecurities.

And what happens when you can’t change these “insecurities”? You end up hating them.

Glowing up is a slippery slope that can lead to self-hatred and hence, must be tread on carefully.

The expectations are unrealistic

Woman typing on a computer and saying, "That's impossible."

If we could, we’d spend every moment screaming this from the top of our lungs— “NO TWO PEOPLE ARE THE SAME.”

It is impossible to have the exact same cheekbones as Audrey Hepburn, or the same nose as an influencer you follow on Instagram!

And, as witnessed throughout history, beauty standards keep changing. While “size zero” was the norm in the 2000’s, today’s beauty standards bend towards “hourglass figures.”

Trying to transform your body to keep up with these everchanging trends is harmful and dangerous.

No “glow up” will ever be enough

Woman saying, "Never enough."

Okay so you glowed up into every standard set by the society— luscious hair, perfect body, and blemish-less face. But you see a new product in the market. A company has launched a “brightening cream” for people’s palms. You’re now left wondering what is wrong with your palm and how to rectify it.

Seems too far fetched? Probably, but it’s based on trends seen through time.

Nobody cared about “blackheads” or knew what they were until a remedy was launched to “fix it.”

Every “glow up” journey will never be enough because companies will continue putting out new products to capitalize off your insecurities.

So, why bother chasing an unattainable goal?

Instead, this summer, focus on glowing up in other aspects of your life. You could try working toward academic, financial, and mental glow ups!

And don’t forget, IGNITE will be here to support you through all the healthy transformations you decide to undertake!

Ready to begin your academic “glow up” journey? Check out the smart student’s guide to setting SMART goals.

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