There's Something Troubling About the Latest Viral Video Trend, #DontJudgeChallenge

There's Something Troubling About the Latest Viral Video Trend, #DontJudgeChallenge
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram

You can't just wipe off cystic acne. 

But according to the latest trend going viral, that detail isn't too important. Thousands of teens are using makeup to doll themselves up with "ugly" features, then wipe them off to reveal more "beautiful" faces.

Welcome to the #DontJudgeChallenge, a trend with arguably good intentions that's missing the mark.

A photo posted by (@) on

A photo posted by (@) on

The trend: Users on Vine and Instagram are posting videos of themselves with "ugly" facial features, including painting on thick, dark eyebrows (bonus points if it's a unibrow), blackening out a tooth for a less-than-stellar smile and covering their faces with red dots that we can only assume reference zits. Oh, and don't forget to draw your chin inward and make silly faces.

Then, after a quick blackout of the camera, the teens reveal their unblemished faces, often meticulously made-up with lipstick, eyeliner, the works.

The point of the trending hashtag, which is also known as #DontJudgeABookByItsCover, is meant to remind users to not "judge a book by its cover." It started cropping up on Facebook, and while its origins are unclear, it is now a full-blown popular hashtag on Instagram, and entire accounts are dedicated to sharing the videos. 

A photo posted by (@) on

A photo posted by (@) on

The backlash: But, as Buzzfeed noted, something's amiss when thousands of teens think it's perfectly fine to mock anyone with actual acne, unruly eyebrows, braces and glasses — particularly when plenty of people, especially teens, cope with these features every day. Like we said, you can't just wipe off cystic acne with makeup remover. 

Other teens feel the same way, creating a backlash movement as they post their own videos critiquing the #DontJudgeChallenge. One user stares at the camera without any makeup and after the 'blackout,' re-emerges exactly the same. "I'm still ugly? Oh, it didn't work for me," he says. 

One of the most popular Tweets on the trend ends with the remark, "How are you gonna expect people to be confident if you keep joking around and making their insecurities feel like they are ugly?" according to the Mirror.

The critiques have even coalesced into a counter-movement, #BeautyInAllChallenge.


A photo posted by (@) on

A vanity project? It's hard to critique the "don't judge a book by its cover" sentiment, but those who critique the movement also point out that the participants' intentions may be more self-interested. The videos may also be seen simply as good-looking teens posting dramatic transformations of themselves to garner "likes" and comments confirming how beautiful they are. 

As one Twitter user wrote, "The #dontjudgechallenge is a bunch of attractive people mocking people who don't fit into societies standard of beauty, stop."

Of course, there are those #DontJudgeChallenge posters who say that it's just a silly viral trend. But teen years can be painful years, full of social scrutiny and insecurities, and the "ugly" photos don't do much to counter it. 

It's unclear whether this challenge will go the mile or just fade out in a few days, but one thing is clear: When it comes to social media trends, you're just as likely to gain "likes" as you are to get critics. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Theresa Avila

Theresa is a staff writer covering all things style for Mic. A recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Theresa did radio reporting and focused on the public education system in New York City. She's a proud member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was part of its 2015 Student Projects. You can send her a note in English, español, or Spanglish at theresa@mic.com.

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