Don't Ask YouTube If You're Pretty
Teen girls flock to the internet to ask if they're ugly or not.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 7th, 2012
ff someone had asked us at age 15 if we'd post a video asking the general public if they thought we were pretty or not, we'd have responded with a hearty ,"Hell no." So why is it that nowadays, it's become a trend for teenagers (mostly girls but some boys, too) to post a video to YouTube asking just that?
One girl posts, saying, "A lot of people call me ugly, and I think I am ugly. I think I'm ugly and fat." She invites commenters to offer their opinion...and opine they did. The video, which she posted on December 17th, 2010, has more than 4 million views and has over 107,000 comments—all anonymous. Most are hateful, as you could have predicted. Some girls as young as 10 have posted similar videos.
As you could imagine, the comments are polarized: if a commenter isn't trashing the subject of the video, the comments are lewd, calling them "attention whores" and asking to see them naked. Preying on young people like this is sick.
One commenter on the girl's video reads, "Y[sic] do you live, and kids in africa[sic] die?" while another suggests, "You need a hug."
"These videos could be read as a new form of self-mutilation in line with cutting and eating disorders."
— Emilie Zaslow, a media studies professor at Pace University in New York
Experts in child psychology wonder if the videos represent a "new wave of distress" rather than the common pleas for affirmation and attention that are usual teen behavior. We have to guess that, given the ubiquity of the internet in teens' lives today (Thank everything that none of us had Facebook at 13, right?), these teens are struggling to find support among what they perceive as a mostly-unsupportive avenue. One girl who calls herself Faye in a video, says that she is bullied at school, suffers migraines that have sent her to the hospital, and that she's trying to deal with her parents' divorce. She goes on to say, "I just don't like my body at all," pulling up her shirt to bare her stomach. Faye is 13.
It's telling that when Faye's mother finds out about the video, she doesn't make her daughter take it off the internet. Interviewed for Good Morning America," Naomi Gibson says, "I was floored." Gibson didn't even know her daughter had posted such a video. She told ABC that she was considering revoking her daughter's YouTube privileges, but stopped short of making her take down the video in question. Somewhat foolishly, Gibson says, "Hopefully it will open up the eyes of the parents. The kids aren't letting their parents know what's wrong, just like Faye didn't let me know."
YouTube has declined to comment on the trend, only issuing a statement advising parents to visit the site's safety center.
But we have to ask: why, once parents find out about these videos, are they not taken down? Why did Naomi Gibson see virtually nothing wrong with her 13-year-old daughter posting a video in which she pulls up her shirt and openly discusses body image issues? It's not a new thing at all for teenagers to crave validation and praise, but asking the internet is opening a huge can of worms—if only because by our count, about 99% of people on the internet are usually just jerks looking to cut someone down or pick a fight behind an anonymous screen.
Emilie Zaslow, a media studies professor at Pace University in New York, says that today's online world for teens is just beginning to be understood by researchers, and that the shift to asking the entire internet instead of a personal diary makes sense because the internet is your diary and thus, the audience is global. Still, the pressure on teen girls to attain a certain standard of beauty could lead to self-destructive behavior.
"These videos could be read as a new form of self-mutilation in line with cutting and eating disorders," Zaslow said.
While we're not sure if it's on the same level as physically harming oneself, posting videos inviting vitriolic verbal commentary can't be healthy for one's psyche, especially at a young, impressionable age.
[Source: AP News]