|YouTube still used by huffingtonpost.com|
This breaks my heart so much, I can barely write about it. Fortunately, the Huffington Post already has. So has jezebel.com. And SFGate.
According to these articles, it's a growing trend: Many pre-teen and teen girls (and a few boys), some as young as 11, have posted videos of themselves on YouTube, asking people whether they're pretty (or ugly).
I could only bring myself to watch one, in which the girl, after pointing out her koala hat (unwittingly demonstrating her still-little-girl-ness), says:
I just wanted to make a random video, seeing if I was, like, ugly or not? Because a lot of people call me ugly, and I think...I'm ugly and fat. But all of my friends and girls, they're just like, "Oh, you're so beautiful, oh you're so beautiful. I just wish I was you 'cause you're so beautiful." I'm just like, [adamantly] "Shut up, 'cause I'm not beautiful." And I was just going to show you pictures of me. Well, I think they're...pretty nice...uh, if that, I'm like, pretty or not.Let me be clear about something: She is neither. Ugly nor fat.
Clearly, her self-image, while not good, is in conflict. That's natural; she's a pre-teen. But asking a world wide web of strangers to "tell" her whether she's beautiful? Not at all where she should be getting her self-image from. And why doesn't she know that?
I haven't even told you any of the comments yet. I can't bring myself to read most of them. Suffice it to say that while some people are affirming, many are not. You know the drill: people can be cruel, people can be sick, and the Internet allows a measure of anonymity, so the sick-cruel find an excuse to say what they might not otherwise.
As SFGate put it, "YouTube is the last place these kids should be going to for a confidence boost; the site is bound to make them only feel worse. A 12-year-old isn’t mature enough to deal with vicious remarks made by their mean-spirited peers and sick-minded Internet trolls.... Adolescence is dark and savage and when teenagers put themselves up on the Internet it only magnifies the experience."
YouTube, in its Terms, says, "...you affirm that you are over the age of 13, as the Service is not intended for children under 13. If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service. There are lots of other great web sites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you." Newsflash, YouTube: No one reads Terms!
If you're wondering, "Where are the parents?"...yeah, so am I. What I hate the most about that is: "where are the parents" has almost become a cliché.
Maybe part of why this breaks my heart is: I don't remember being told I was beautiful by anyone at home, and I was told the opposite by my peers. I was teased cruelly and called names related to my appearance. I can still remember some of those incidents. I was convinced I was unattractive and that boys would not like me. In other words: I was once that girl. I know how much damage a ruined body image can wreak.
Only in my mid-to-late-30s and early 40s did I begin to truly believe that I was attractive. That means that for the majority of my first 40 years, I walked around consciously believing that I was un-lovely. Is it any wonder why I've struggled to relate in the world, why I've (with one grand exception) struck out with men?
Well I guess I was able to write more about this than I thought. But all I can say in closing is: Wow, are our priorities ever screwed up.