Teenagers React To Being Called Beautiful, And It’s More Powerful Than You Think

Shea Glover attends a performing arts high school in Chicago. In May of 2015, she had an idea. Shea decided to conduct an independent project, which turned into a social experiment of sorts, regarding beauty among her classmates. She filmed their reactions after telling them on camera that they’re beautiful. It’s a simple idea, but the results pack a powerful punch.

“I want to clarify that my intentions were not to get a reaction out of people,” she writes on YouTube. “I was simply filming beauty and this is the result. Here it is.” Shea declares to each individual, “I’m just taking pictures of things I find beautiful.” Some reactions were skeptical, some were overjoyed — and some even became defensive. Viewers have criticized those students who reacted more negatively than one would expect to such a flattering comment. To those critics, Shea says, “Some people react differently to things that make them vulnerable.” And she’s totally right.

They may not look like your typical students, with their tattoos, piercings and brightly-colored hair, and maybe it’s easy to peg them as artists and drama students just from the way they look. But like any other teenager (or human being, for that matter), there are times they feel like outcasts, struggle with self-esteem, or look in the mirror and dislike who they see. I love how the girl with the red hair and glasses looks down as if she’s never heard this compliment before, then looks up and nearly starts to cry… or the girl with the curly hair who opens her pursed mouth to reveal a beautiful, wide smile.

I’ve never seen such a powerful example of how the simple act of telling someone they’re beautiful, without any hidden agenda, motive or expectations, can reveal so much about who they are.

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