As photos of our 20-year-old selves populate social media, it's becoming clear that for many women, the much romanticised decade is a time of insecurity and lossby Suchandrika Chakrabarti / April 22, 2020 / Leave a comment
I was one of those people who was having an okay time in lockdown. I was hitting my freelance deadlines, getting up in the morning to work on a book proposal and I’d even bought a mini-trampoline to exercise in the living room—and was using it. I found clues to my calm state in recent articles that compare our emotions under lockdown to those experienced during grief, even suggesting that feeling the loss of control over our lives simulates grief.
That made sense to me. Having lost both my parents before my 20th birthday, I was used to feeling emotionally out of step with others. Double bereavement taught me to pinpoint the things I can’t change and accept them. I’ve navigated the sudden sharp turns of emotion before. I’ve had the vivid dreams—but mine were grief dreams. Lockdown couldn’t compare to the worst time of my life, and I assumed that I would get through it using the lessons grief had taught me.
But, last week, a hashtag broke me. #MeAt20 started trending across Twitter and Instagram. The premise was simple: share a photo of yourself aged 20. Add a caption if you like. I was fascinated by the pictures that people chose to share. For those who weren’t extremely online at the age of 20, photos were dug out of Facebooks, Flickrs and even real-life albums. Famous people rushed to post joyous images of their younger selves.
Nigella Lawson’s post bent the rules slightly because, as she wrote, “Can’t find one at 20, so here’s one when I was 23.” Her black-and-white portrait was so striking that a crowd of famous commenters felt compelled to leave compliments. Carol Vorderman shared her graduation photo, adding: “Graduating age 20. 1981. Engineering. Cambridge Uni. VERY bad perm,” which might be the very definition of a humblebrag. Singer Alison Moyet’s post was a simple “#MeAt20 #Yazoo,” with a picture guaranteed to transport tweeters of a certain age right back to 1982 and her first hit, “Only You.”
Explaining why people were so keen to jump on this trend, psychologist Dr Rachel…