“Am I Pretty?” Videos Breaks My Heart

Have you seen this article in the New York Times? I read it a few days ago but found it so unsettling that I kept re-reading it, looking for answers.

Apparently, over 23,000 middle school girls are posting videos on youtube asking the question “Am I pretty?” and seeking candid responses from anyone on the internet.

“The videos follow a template: Talk into the camera, show your face, maybe share some pictures, explain your conundrum (“My friends tell me I’m pretty; it doesn’t seem like I’m pretty, though,” says one), then ask viewers to share their honest opinions in the comments. Some plead with viewers not to be mean.”

It could be a “pre-emptive strike against bullying,” the author offers. A chance for girls to take it upon themselves to address their looks before anyone else does. But it scares me on so many levels. Why are 13 year olds even being granted the autonomy to create a youtube account and upload videos? What is going to be the norm when I have a middle school daughter? How do you protect your child when they’re given iPads at school to play around on?

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“Unlike the walled-off environments of Facebook or Instagram, or the one-on-one intimacy of messaging services like Snapchat, YouTube — stodgy as it may seem to someone who has never known a world without it — is where these girls find opinions from what they believe to be the larger world.”

The “larger world,” I would argue, is not the best starting point for a 13 year old girl and her fragile insecurities. Why aren’t these girls turning to their mom’s cool best friend, or older cousin? Where are they? 

The article reminds me of an incident in high school that I’ll never forget: one afternoon, posted up in my favorite hiding spot in the library, I overheard the popular senior boys rating some girls on a “hot scale” of 1 to 10. I remember idly listening along, finishing up my calculus homework, when I heard my name. My heart raced as I listened to them argue heatedly over my “hotness.” I strained to identify their voices. (Is that WILL??) The whole thing kind of crushed me. I can only imagine the affect these videos are going to have on this generation’s young teens. It worries me.

Thoughts??

Images from Berta Bernad

2 thoughts on ““Am I Pretty?” Videos Breaks My Heart

  1. WHAT!? I’ve never heard of this until today. It’s VERY upsetting. A pre-emptive strike against bullying? More like asking for bullying. I had to watch a couple…innocent girls saying “be honest, it’s ok”. I honestly don’t know what would motivate a girl to do this (and where the hell are her parents)!

    At the risk of sounding like an angry oldster shooing kids off her lawn, I feel like the world is going crazy. We are bombarded with shameless, narcissistic self promotion (a la Kim K), images of women who look nothing like that in real life, and advertisements of things that we must have or be less than. I’d be full of self doubt if I was 13 or 14 too. I was when I was growing up before the internet, and all I had to be concerned about was my best friends mom let her shave her legs and mine didn’t. I went through some tough times growing up, as we all did – the last thing I would have needed was 100’s of strangers leaving mean comments on a youtube video, just to be mean. There are enough mean people in our own neighborhoods.

    The internet (and other media) is a double edged sword and needs to be used with discernment. I’m an educated, rational, adult, and it’s easy to start to believe that aging makes us worthless, weighing too much or too little makes us worthless, not having the latest whatever makes us worthless. A good reality check is going to your local mall, where “normal” abounds.

    I comfort myself by remembering that in all times, there have been scary things – in the 50’s it was beatniks, in the 70’s it was hippies – and the world didn’t go to hell in a hand basket.

    I was so, so hard on myself when I was that age…too fat, too short, goofy glasses, wrong clothes. When I look at pictures of myself from then today, I see an average sized, pretty girl with shiny hair and kind eyes. I wish I would have seen that then, how much easier life would have been. When my high school boyfriend broke up with me after 3 years, he said it was for someone “cuter”. I actually wrote in my diary – I can’t really blame him, I know I’m not that cute. Ya know, I WAS that cute!

    When I see young girls out and about, they all look so cute, giggly and sparkly to me. It’s heartbreaking that they are making these videos. Normal angst is enough to deal with without opening ourselves up for all comers.

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