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Why the #DontJudgeChallenge is actually really judgmental
The viral Vine video trend #DontJudgeChallenge seeks to put value on personality traits over outward appearance, but some say it misses its mark. - photo by Chandra Johnson
The viral video trend #DontJudgeChallenge is drawing the ire of some critics on the Internet who say the movement actually undercuts its own efforts to not base worth on physical appearance.

The trend has become a popular hashtag on Instagram, with thousands of users posting videos of themselves sporting fake or drawn-on facial features they consider "ugly" such as unibrows, skin blemishes and glasses before revealing themselves after a camera blackout, often highly made up.

As tech website Mic reported, the goal of videos seems to promote the idea of "not judging a book by its cover," but mocking certain physical attributes is basically the definition of judging, Mic writer Theresa Avila argued.

"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," Avila wrote. "You can't just wipe off cystic acne with makeup remover."

Lifestyle and fashion site Refinery29's Taylor Bryant argued the movement, embraced by teens especially, is dangerous for an age group that often struggles with the very features the videos stigmatize.

"The very basis of the challenge is supposed to empower teens and confront those who instantly judge others based on their appearance. But instead, it's making fun of and insulting those who do have these "flaws" (a.k.a., most people)," Bryant wrote. "It's doing more harm than good."

Yet as one YouTube vlogger found out this week, people who prefer to improve their features with makeup are judged just as harshly as people who don't. Em Ford, the woman behind the makeup tutorial video blog My Pale Skin, has struggled with severe acne most of her life. This week, she posted a mini documentary on her YouTube channel that chronicled the negative comments she received to her face with and without makeup.

Whether Ford wore makeup or not, the response from the online audience was the same: "You look disgusting." Ford's take-away from her experience mirrored the backlash of #DontJudge critics: Beautiful should simply mean being yourself, but that's not a mantra often heard from social media or advertising.

"One challenge many face today, is that as a society, we're so used to seeing false images of perfection," Ford wrote. "It can be hard to remember the most important thing you are beautiful."
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