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?
“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.
Images from Berta Bernad