The awkward stage of life: a.k.a. our teenage years that most of us could not wait to get out of (don’t worry teens—you’ll make it out eventually). For those of us who can look back at our teenage years without complete disgust, we remember the agony of getting our braces tightened, the never-ending acne popping up on our faces and those awkward first dates that usually consisted of going to the local Applebee’s for half-priced apps.
Although these awkward teen years don’t last forever, we can take comfort in the fact that these years are inevitable; everyone, including A-list celebrities, once started out as braces-wearing, pimple-popping teenagers.
Late Show host Steven Colbert and actor Nick Kroll decided to celebrate these awkward stages of life by creating a Twitter challenge appropriately titled #PuberMe. #PuberMe dared celebrities to tweet out photos of themselves in their teenage years, complete with crazy glasses, hairstyles and clothing of the time. The challenge was originally created to promote Kroll’s new animated feature on Netflix, Big Mouth, which centers around the difficult years of puberty, but the challenge quickly turned into much more than that.
Colbert and Kroll decided that for each photo and hashtag that was used, Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream Fund (inspired by the name of his Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor) would donate $1,000 to One American Appeal. OAA was formed by past Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush and supports the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma.
#PuberMe became a social media phenomenon with celebrities Instagramming, Tweeting and hashtagging their way through photos. Reese Witherspoon, James Corden, Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel and Lin-Manuel Miranda are just a few of the hundreds of celebrities who were brave enough to post a throwback picture. Many of these celebrities made the best of these photos by poking fun at their younger selves.
Marissa Ezrow, a senior here at West Chester University, first discovered the #PuberMe challenge while scrolling through her Twitter timeline: “I thought this challenge was so funny. I loved seeing what celebrities looked like as teenagers compared to how they are now.” Ezrow said her favorite throwback photo was of “Pitch Perfect” star Skylar Astin, complete with buck teeth and overly-jelled hair.
Celebrities submitted their photos over the course of a week, and after that week was up, Colbert announced a grand total of $233,000 being raised for the OAA from #PuberMe. A few more donations were given to the cause from CBS Chief Leslie Moonves, the American Dream Fund and Kroll himself, bringing the total up to a whopping $1 million.
Rachel Broniec, a senior at West Chester, thought that #PuberMe was an innovative idea, “It got lots of people involved for a good cause, and ended up having great results with all the money that was raised.”
So, the next time your mom wants to dig out those junior high prom pictures and take a stroll down memory lane, don’t be mortified. Instead, embrace those crazy glasses and braces, because although your teenage years can definitely be considered the most awkward, at least you can look back on them and laugh.
Taylor Stenroos is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a writing track with minors in journalism and French. They can be reached at TS833344@wcupa.edu.