Personal Wellness

The Pressure to “Glow Up” During Quarantine Is Real

Dec 31, 2020
Last Updated May 24, 2024

Learning how to positively focus our energy with Laura Girard

As some of us enter a second stay-at-home order, spending any free moments scrolling through social media is hardly anything new. In many ways, it can be an enjoyable way to feel connected with others going through this crazy experience. But this isn’t the only impact social media can have.

We’ve all seen the “glow up” posts on our social feeds – the ones that seem to pressure us into changing out physical appearance for the approval of others. “Glowing up”, which is a term typically used to describe a physical transformation, feeds into the pressure to present as a polished, put-together person, especially on social media. People of all ages and genders are left comparing themselves to influencers who often uphold an unrealistic standard of looks and lifestyle.  

This concept is changing the way that people view exercise. Instead of it being a way to appreciate our bodies and relax our minds, it can become a dreaded way to achieve these crazy body image expectations. 

Laura Girard, a body-positive personal trainer

Meet Laura!

Laura Girard is a positive, growth-focused personal trainer with an “anti-diet, anti-bullsh * t, pro-healing” philosophy. She uses her knowledge and her platform to break down the myths surrounding fitness. She motivates her clients to tune into their bodies, pave their own journeys, and try new, challenging things. 

We spoke with Laura to get a deeper understanding of the world of fitness, beauty standards, and lifestyle, as well as how we can shift the focus from society back to ourselves. 

The social media standard

Social media has notoriously been a place driven by the fluctuating standards of the beauty industry. Influencers, celebrities, and big companies usually set the trends. It’s only a matter of time before we start to form unrealistic ideals for ourselves based on the media we consume. 

“There’s so much built around this impossible beauty standard that we’re all held up to,” Laura observes. “It’s constantly changing and trending.” Right now, what’s deemed attractive is having a slim waist, bigger butt, and overall lean physique. Though of course some people are naturally born with this body type, it’s impossible for everyone to achieve, and can be unhealthy if pursued. 

Constantly comparing ourselves to these idolized people can make us feel like we’re failing. But, it is possible to change this mindset. Laura says, “If you’re able to take a step back and remove yourself from that and think about what it would actually look like if we could fit [these standards], it’s so ridiculous because our bodies aren’t trends.”

Why and how the “glow up” came to be

It’s no surprise that this expectation to look a certain way carried over into the “glow up” culture that’s prevalent today. “There is so much pressure to ‘make use of this time,’” says Laura. “This [pandemic] is a collective trauma that we’re all going through, so to put the pressure on ourselves to ‘glow-up’, which in terms of Instagram usually means to lose weight and get a makeover, is foolish.”

The reality is that people who care about you don’t really care about how you look. Laura reminds us, “No one else is thinking about other people’s bodies as much as we think they are.”

Rather than focusing our energy on what’s on the outside, especially during such a stressful time, we should shift that focus inward. “Taking care of ourselves comes down to managing our expectations for what we’re able to get done or how, and just recognizing that nobody is operating at full capacity. If you’re surviving, you’re doing great! ” 

Unfollow and unmute

Just like how we’re in control of our own bodies, we’re also in control of the media we consume. A first step towards a healthier relationship with ourselves can start with a simple tap. Laura says, “Unfollowing any account, regardless of their intention, is a power that we hold. Following people with body types that look like yours, and filling it with diverse bodies and voices, is more beneficial. That’s going to look different for everyone. “

There are many people and communities that promote healthier, balanced lifestyles and philosophies. There has been a recent surge in positive messaging that challenges the traditionally unrealistic beauty standards we’ve been faced with. “A lot of the conversations that I’ve been having online have had to do with the body positivity movement, body liberation, and fat acceptance –– really breaking down major systemic issues and how that has been co-opted by Instagram positivity,” Laura recalls. 

Find diverse influencers that you resonate with and change what posts and messages you see. This is a simple but very effective step for shifting your mindset!

Self-care has “self” in it for a reason

Learning what helps us feel good and relaxed is especially important during this time in our lives. When we asked Laura what self-care means to her, she said, “It comes down to stronger boundaries, mostly with myself. While the community and connection that we get from social media can keep us going, you need time away. Take some time to be alone, to unplug, to rest. Rest is just as productive as work. ” 

Prioritizing self-care is important regardless of what we see online. The people we see spending money on materialistic things or on their appearance might seem happy, but we don’t really know. The way others practice self-care isn’t the end-all-be-all.

“We need to recognize that what works for someone else might not work for you. That’s not a message you can really spread over the internet, ”Laura says. “We’re just consistently battered with information-overload about what we should be doing, so it becomes hard to trust something that we are doing.” Listen to your inner voice and follow what feels good to you . Nobody else can do that for you. Prioritize yourself and the goals you want to achieve without comparison.

A relaxed woman, joyous

Change your mindset and make motivation sustainable

It’s hard not to get consumed with the pressures that social media puts on our appearances and fitness journeys, but it helps to focus on the basics and what we can control. Laura says, “… Implement [more] mindfulness. Give ourselves a break wherever we can. Recognize the things we can control. Everything counts and what feels good to you is most important. “

Staying motivated on your wellbeing journey can also be a challenge. “Motivation, willpower, and discipline are limited resources,” says Laura. “I think the most important thing for motivation is connecting with your ‘why’ and figuring out what your ‘why’ is.”

“What I mean by ‘why’ is connecting with something that’s important to you, which is personal. Whenever I get caught up in the minutiae of why I’m doing what I’m doing, I try to zoom out and focus on the bigger picture. Give yourself that trust to not have to do ‘all or nothing’ all the time. “

Some closing thoughts…

Exercising is about more than how you look – It’s really about how you feel. It shouldn’t feel like a form of punishment. Let’s get back to moving for our own enjoyment, relaxation, and mood. Let’s lessen the comparisons we make and remember that our journeys are unique for a reason.

“Progress looks different for every person. Consistency is great progress. Doing something and it getting easier is progress. Reframing your mindset is progress. Whatever progress you’re trying to achieve comes back to understanding what you’re trying to achieve and why, ”Laura concludes.

As for the culture today, we need to redefine the “glow up” and shift the focus from our physical appearance to our holistic health and mindset. Self-image and self-care mean different things to different people. Especially during a time like this when stress is running high, taking care of and checking in with ourselves remains the priority.

Wellhub was founded to help the people fall in love with a healthy body and a happy mind. From personal trainers to one-on-one therapy, we support our users in every aspect of their wellbeing. Sign up today and start your free trial. 

Be sure to follow Laura on Instagram at @ laura.girard.



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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