The trend was started by a TikTok user who showed the difference between how she presented herself while living with her family and the "real" her.
There are few things more fulfilling in life than being able to live as your true, authentic self. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible for everyone as their circumstances might force them to conform to a certain way. This was the case for Jay Burleigh, a 24-year-old teacher and writer from Louisiana who growing up in a small, conservative, and Catholic town. "I knew that I had a lot of beliefs that were outside of the social norms of my town for my whole life, but always stayed very quiet about them from fear of being judged or shunned more than I already felt I was," Burleigh told BuzzFeed.
Burleigh, who has known she was queer since the age of 12, began to embrace her true identity when she moved away for college. "I was finally able to open up to these liberal thoughts and beliefs 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." Since setting out on her journey of self-acceptance, Burleigh has undergone an incredible glow-up which she got to show off as part of a trend popularized by a 19-year-old TikTok user from Utah.
In a now-viral TikTok video, Cherryemojigirl shared the stunning transformation she went through after moving out from the conservative house she grew up in. Her before-and-after photographs showed a stark difference between how she had to present herself while living with her family and the "real" her who preferred vibrant hair, piercings, and tattoos. The video inspired more TikTokers to show off their glow-ups, resulting in one of the most awe-inspiring internet trends of all time.
"I was terrified for so long of the judgment I'd face and the relationships I'd [lose] but I finally decided that I needed to prioritize myself and accept who I am," Burleigh told Bored Panda. "I'd been so used to such strict expectations of what made a person a woman and what made them a man so anything in between wasn't seen as 'girly' or 'manly.' I had to release those ideas and restructure my ideas of what made me feel more feminine and what made me feel more masculine and what just let me float in between. With this, I really learned to love myself for every piece of me."
"I didn't come out to my family until I was 22, but after coming out I fully embraced my gender fluidity and I continue to educate myself and fight for social justice and human rights every day," she said. Sharing some advice for individuals who feel pressured by their loved ones to look and act a certain way, Burleigh said: "It doesn't matter how hard you try, you'll never please everyone, but by embracing yourself the self-love you feel will overcome the judgment around you. Be okay with the idea that people will leave your life, learn from the lesson they left, and be bravely and beautifully you despite the hate that lives around us. It's a long and hard journey but it's well worth the climb."