FEATURE

"Am I Pretty or Ugly?": Stop Your Daughter From Becoming a Victim Online

Am I Pretty or Ugly?

Search ‘Am I pretty?’ or ‘Am I ugly?’ online and you will find millions of links to photos of girls aged nine to 13 asking those very questions. Learn more about this disturbing trend for crowd-sourcing validation and how to safeguard your daughter.

When you were a teenager, you probably turned to your best friend or the pages of your diary when you needed to pour your heart out or share your insecurities – not to a global audience. However, since 2011, young girls have been uploading public videos of themselves online in which they talk to the camera about their appearance and ask the question: ‘Am I pretty or ugly?’ or ‘How pretty am I?’

Why are ‘Am I pretty?’ videos and posts popular?

There are various theories as to why this trend has gone viral – boredom, attention-seeking, simple curiosity. However, one common thread throughout many of these videos is that these girls have already been teased or bullied about their appearance offline – and have taken to the internet to confirm or negate it. Cammy Nelson, a media literacy speaker and activist, says: “They have learned to gain validation from the outside world and they’ve placed their self-esteem in the hands of the bigger world that is the internet. Twenty ‘Likes’ on a selfie is worth more than a compliment.”

Girls in their tweens and teens often feel anxious about their growing and changing appearance, especially if they’ve been bullied about it – and social media provides a ready-made platform to receive feedback. Unfortunately, that feedback can be negative as well as positive.

Exactly who responds to ‘Am I ugly?’ and ‘Am I pretty?’ videos?

These girls are inviting verdicts on their appearance and there are thousands of people more than willing to respond, often anonymously or under an alias. Louise Orwin, a UK performance artist keen to understand this phenomenon, uploaded ‘Am I pretty or ugly?’ videos to YouTube posing as three different teenage girls. She says: “I had assumed that most of my audience would be teenage girls; however, when I researched my commenters, I found that nearly 70% were men over the age of 18.”

What’s even more disturbing is the commentary that’s left behind. Orwin describes receiving more than 4,000 comments – 70% of which were negative. Not only are these comments critical, but many are also cruel and hateful, pointing out specific physical attributes as unsightly. Others are sexual in nature, objectifying and sometimes inviting a response. Obviously not the sort of things to which you want your daughter exposed.

Protecting your daughter from the lure of the ‘Am I pretty?’ test trend

Aside from the threat of predators, research has shown that...

Read more at The Dove Self-Esteem Project website

Share

Bio

Sharon HeadshotSharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing.

MORE...

Bio

Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a lengthy career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing. After backpacking throughout Mexico, Southeast Asia, and much of South America, she found her second home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there she committed herself to writing. She studied the craft, joined a writer's group (Thursdays@Three), and experimented with various styles of fiction and non-fiction, which led to her participation as an author, editor, and presenter at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires in 2008 and 2009 representing the US Embassy.

Today, she is a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to medicine, web design, the American justice system, wind technology, anthropology, psychology, and the English and Spanish languages. She has authored textbooks and several online courses for colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. From authoring white papers to copy editing university-level exams, from ghostwriting for bestselling authors to development editing quarterly and annual reports, Sharon's experience is far-reaching.

She especially enjoys combining her love of the written word with her passion for body image activism and feminism. She regularly writes for Herizons, Canada's leading feminist magazine, and most recently, has contributed to Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago), an anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

Since 2009, she has acted as co-editor for AdiosBarbie.com, a website that promotes healthy body image and identity for people of all sizes, ages, races, cultures, abilities, and sexual identities and orientations, in addition to being a virtual member of the London-based AnyBody team, part of the international movement Endangered Bodies. Sharon's work with AnyBody inspired her to organize Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body in Buenos Aires, one of five international summits held in March 2011. Subsequently, she founded AnyBody Argentina, the Buenos Aires chapter of Endangered Bodies, which fights against sizeism and promotes healthy body image for Argentine girls and women, issues that Sharon writes about in both English and Spanish. As of January 2013, Sharon has been a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

Close

Proud Contributor to:

Fifty Shades of FeminismPublished in March 2013, Sharon contributes "Owning the F-word" to this anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

Twitter feed