On the other hand, the millions of people who confess their grief feel the pain and the beautiful authenticity. “Grief is about being human; it broadens our empathy and our ability to give and receive love,” Compton affirms. “There is strength in weakness.”
But on the other hand, there’s a difference between sharing a selfie after a real sop session and tapping shimmery shadow on your eyelids and cupid’s bow to replicate fake tears. The first looks more vulnerable and authentic; The latter is actually quite contrived.
And according to clinical psychologist Chloe Carmichael, PhD, the latter may turn into a behavioral activation state, where an interest in looking sad and defeated can cause feelings of sadness and defeat, even if you didn’t feel like it before. road. “It’s almost steps being taken to intensify or savor the experience of that sadness, which can cultivate a sense of connection to the sadness,” she explains. “Hanging on negativity can actually become a barrier to wellness if we feel too comfortable.”
It quickly becomes a “chicken and egg” situation: Does the repetition of the sad girl’s make-up cause you sadness, or does the look help you express those feelings you already have? Makeup can be a form of self-expression, and this trend may help people convey difficult feelings when words don’t do them justice. But as one TikTok user said in a viral video: “If you’re not in the mood to cry, here’s how to get the look with makeup,” implying a sense of desperation. This slight difference can tip the scales when it comes to mental health.
Motivation aside, the sad girl aesthetic can also create “secondary gain,” says Carmichael, in which one can experience marginal benefits from illness, whether mental or physical. “The classic example in a psychology textbook is a little girl who has a cast on her leg, so she doesn’t have to go to school, and all her friends come over and cheer for her every day,” she explains. “Then when the doctor says it’s time to take off the cast, the little girl insists her leg hasn’t healed…she becomes so attached to the secondary gains of the disease that she doesn’t want to part with it.”
The same can be said about sad girl makeup: in this case, the likes and comments one might get after posting a crying makeup video create actual gains that can in turn perpetuate that feeling of sadness. “At the end of the day, people on TikTok want interaction. They want attention. They don’t post it on TikTok so no one sees it,” says Carmichael. “They’re in an environment that almost rewards negativity.”
Of course, people getting together and talking about their emotions is a positive thing. But it feels different than, say, a grief group, where there’s also a focus on dealing with those difficult emotions. “There is an acknowledgment of the grief, but also an emphasis on the fact that we will move forward,” Carmichael adds. “While with sad girl makeup, it doesn’t necessarily look like it’s part of the ecosystem.”
Learning about the ups and downs of social media can be helpful, but at the end of the day, you might want to think about why you’re really picking up your blush.