Most people change and develop their style as they get older. But some who grew up in more conservative households had to suppress who they really were until they could move out and come into their own.
One TikTok user, @cherryemojigirl, posted a video full of old photos of herself looking "preppy" and "popular" in high school as she narrated and explained that growing up, she couldn't be herself. She says that once she struck out on her own, she was able to express who she really was — dyed hair, long nails, tattoos, and all. Her video has amassed millions of views and likes, and it started a whole trend.
"Did anyone else grow up in a really conservative household, so you were never allowed to express yourself through your appearance?" she asks. "And somehow in middle school and high school you ended up getting roped into the popular, preppy friend group, so you just looked like a basic a-- local for most of your life?
"Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just wasn't you, so the minute you graduated and went off on your own, you just... This. This happened. Just me? OK, cool." At the pause, she shows herself now. Her hair is dyed red and black, her fingernails are long and painted neon green, and she has tattoos on her arms and clavicle.
It's definitely a different look from the photos she showed before, in which she wore preppy clothes and her natural hair color. @Cherryemojigirl's video evidently resonated with a ton of people, because soon, others were using her audio and placing pictures of their own "glow-up" transformation over it.
"I've never felt so seen by an audio before," wrote TikTok user Mason Denver. Mason shared photos from his youth, where he had side-swept hair and looked to be a football player.
But now, Mason has long, luxurious hair, cute overalls, and great makeup. It's so heartwarming to see all these people finally being able to express who they really are.
One TikTok user who participated in the glow-up trend, Jay Burleigh, spoke to BuzzFeed about how much this she related to this story. The 24-year-old teacher and writer grew up in Louisiana, in a small, conservative, Catholic town.
She knew she was queer since she's been 12 years old, but she didn't feel like it was an option to come out and live authentically at the time. "I knew that I had a lot of beliefs that were outside of the social norms of my town for my whole life," she said, "but always stayed very quiet about them from fear of being judged or shunned more than I already felt I was."
Once Jay went to college, she was able to come out of her shell a little bit and finally be herself. "I was finally able to open up to these liberal thoughts and believes and really explore my sexuality," she said. "I was finally able to develop and educate myself on what I believe to be just and what I believe to be unjust."
Sharing her glow-up isn't just about bragging about her awesome haircut (though it is really great). It's about celebrating finally being able to live as herself.
"I didn't come out to my family until I was 22, but after coming out I fully embraced by gender fluidity and I continue to educate myself and fight for social justice and human rights every day," she said.
Head to TikTok to watch some more of these inspiring transformations. Hopefully, these will provide some hope for those who might be in similar situations right now and solidarity for those who went through similar things.