People use TikTok make-up reels to discuss problems - behaviour expert explains if we need to be concerned

TikTok users are discussing their personal issues during their make-up tutorial videos - and an expert thinks this trend is both concerning and beneficial
People are using TikTok make-up reels to discuss serious problems - a behaviour expert has explained why. Stock image by Adobe Photos.People are using TikTok make-up reels to discuss serious problems - a behaviour expert has explained why. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
People are using TikTok make-up reels to discuss serious problems - a behaviour expert has explained why. Stock image by Adobe Photos.

One of the most popular types of video on TikTok is the 'Get Ready With Me' video, also known as 'GRWM'. These beauty-based videos see people apply their make-up while talking through the products they are applying so that viewers can copy the technique if they wish.

Some of these videos include reviews of must-have mascara, or reviews of a new lipstick, or suggestions of how to use eye-shadow in a different way. These videos have racked up millions of views. One of the reasons they are so well-liked is that people love transformation videos, but also enjoy tutorials they can easily follow themselves.

Recently, however, these 'GRWM' videos have taken on a new dimension as influencers are sharing their personal stories and struggles during these make-up tutorials. In one video, for example, a man is discussing his nerves about meeting a long last family member, and in another a woman discusses the upset she feels because her partner doesn't seem to want to take a day off work for the birth of their child.

These serious and personal topics are discussed casually while they dab blusher on their cheeks or slick gloss across their lips, with the stories interrupted to explain the items they are putting on their face. It seems these videos are becoming more commonplace, and while some videos are captioned so that viewers know exactly what to expect, others are posted with more ambigious captions so viewers don't know exactly what they're getting until the content creator starts speaking.

In both cases, these influencers are sharing the most intimate parts of their personal lives with thousands, or even millions, of people - most of whom they don't know at all. So, what are the concerns with sharing details publicly in this way and are there any benefits of online sharing? Psychotherapist and anxiety expert Kamalyn Kaur has spoken to NationalWorld about the trend to answer these questions and more.

The reasons behind the videos

Kaur believes that the act of appling make-up become a distraction for influencers who want to discuss serious topics so they become less overwhelmed by the words they are saying. She says: "This is a strategy that some people find helpful as it can be a way of managing anxiety or nerves. This is approach is often referred to “dual tasking” or “bilateral stimulation”; the idea that diverting some of your cognitive resources to a physical task can make it easier to talk about challenging or emotional subjects."

Kaur adds that this technique is used often by many people. For example, many will have difficult conversations in the car or bring up emotional topics whilst on a walk, or talk to friends about important things while eating food and socialising. She explains that this is because engaging in a physical activity can divert part of your attention away from the emotional content of the conversation, making it easier to discuss the difficult topics. It can also make people feel less exposed, therefore increasing their level of comfort.

Examples of the videos are below:

The issues with sharing personal problems online

Sharing problems so publicly can raise a number of concerns. They are explained by Kaur below:

  • Safety: Sharing personal issues in such a public space is not “safe” and can put you in a very vulnerable position because you are opening yourself up to potential criticism, judgement, or even exploitation. Not everyone online will have good intentions; some people might use the personal information that you have shared against you or take advantage of your vulnerability.
  • Privacy: Once something is shared online, it can be challenging to control where or how it is shared. Even if you select certain privacy settings, there is always a risk of information being copied, saved, or shared without your consent.
  • Triggering: Whilst sharing your own experiences, traumas, or personal struggles can foster connections with your audience, it can also have a negative effect. The information that you are sharing could be triggering for some, causing them emotional distress or discomfort.
  • Shock: You could be misleading the audience by introducing personal problems into a makeup tutorial. For example, someone might click on a video looking to learn something about makeup and find themselves being exposed to information that is triggering or upsetting for them.
  • Unhelpful: Sharing information publicly doesn't help you deal with the problem or issue at hand. The only way you can resolve issues that are bothering you on a deeper level is to talk things through in a safe and private space. Casually sharing your problems whilst doing your skincare routine or makeup routine, minimises the issues at hand.

The benefits of sharing personal problems online

Sharing problems so publicly can have a number of benefits, however. They are explained by Kaur below:

  • Relationships: Sharing personal stories fosters connections between you and the audience because you are showing vulnerability and humanity, making the audience feel understood and less alone in their own struggles.
  • Community: Real life stories can evoke empathy and understanding amongst viewers and also encourages others in the same situation to seek support or take action. It can also help the audience feel reassured with the knowledge they are not alone.
  • Breaking taboo: Sharing personal struggles openly can help with breaking stigmas surrounding certain issues that otherwise might not be discussed or spoken about. Sharing stories online can bring attention to topics that are often kept hidden or not openly discussed which can help with promoting awareness and understanding.
  • Inspirational: By talking about not only your issues, but also how you overcame them, you might inspire and motivate others that are watching you by showing them that difficulties can be overcome.
  • Educational: In some cases, sharing personal stories can add educational value to the lives of the audience by informing them about different perspectives or viewpoints on certain issues.

Outcomes for the creator and the audience

These types of videos can have both positive and negative outcomes for both the creator and audience, says Kaur. The outcome largely depends on how the video is executed, the nature of the stories shared, and the audience’s perception and reception to that video.

"If the video is well thought out and done in a sensitive manner which takes into consideration any potential consequences, then it can create a deeper connection with the audience and provide valuable support," she says. However, she advises that the creators should always be very mindful of privacy, boundaries, and the overall impact of their video on both themselves and their audience.

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