• Alice

My issue with the 10 year challenge

Updated: May 19, 2020

When I first came across the ’10 Year Challenge’ I was lightly bemused by it. Now I’m just finding it very annoying.

In the past week or so it seems to have snowballed at avalanche proportion. Scrolling through Instagram and clicking through stories as I do every morning has become more monotonous than ever. It seems as though literally everyone has jumped onto this memory lane band wagon. I don’t know if I’m just missing the point, or being a party pooper, but it doesn’t sit well with me.

Initially my frustrations stemmed from the title given to this social media trend. I couldn’t really see the ‘challenge’ in it. What exactly are we competing for here? Who has ‘blossomed’ the most since puberty? Who has become the most ‘instagramable’? It hardly seems like a very fair competition. We all know we shouldn’t be judging people on their looks; if we are going to pass judgment then it should be objective, and we should be able to see beauty in everyone in some way or another. As much as the fight is on to challenge beauty standards and break the clichés of ‘insta worthy’ looks these skewed beauty standards still linger. So I can’t help but to see this so called ‘challenge’ as an invitation to vanity and gaining validation. ‘Don’t worry you’re heading in the right direction hun, congratulations on looking sooo much better now!’ Oh please.

This isn’t to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with vanity. Love yourself, of course, we must! Take selfies, share them online and revel in your beauty. But it’s not a competition.

The part I can get on board with is the nostalgia of it. My friends and I will often look back at old photos. And yes I will admit we will say how grateful we are to have grown out of some awful fashion faux pars and laugh at how we used to style our hair and have no eye-brows. So yes, perhaps I am being a little hypocritical. However, I’m not broadcasting whether or not I think my looks have ‘improved’.

Today after several days of slowly growing more irritated every time I took my phone out for a scroll I saw a post someone had shared reacting to the ten-year challenge. Two photos one above the other showed a polar bear in it’s natural habit ten years ago, and now. The old photo shows a large well fed polar bear with a thick glossy coat standing on a vast ice cap. The second photo shows a polar bear and ice cap both as a skeletal version of their former self. Obviously designed to show the devastating affects of climate change on the habitat of polar bears. After seeing this, what had before been a slight annoyance became more of an exasperation. What about the bigger picture? What about all the detrimental things we as a society have done over the past ten years to make the world an UGLIER place?

It is crazy how these types of trends spread like wild fire across social media platforms. Imagine if it had been something meaningful and with physical results that had captured the world this week? Like ‘don’t purchase any plastic challenge’, ‘recycle as much as you can challenge!’ or ‘carry out as many self(ie)less deeds as you can this week challenge!’. Would it have taken off so much? I’m not sure. But I know the outcome would have been something a great deal more wholesome.

I know a lot of these fads are just light hearted fun to escape the turmoil the world is currently in. And to be fair, I’ve seen a select few that I’ve enjoyed this week. But I think personally I’d rather just take funny cat meme over a vanity based challenge for my online escapism.


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