Disturbing trend sweeps YouTube: Teen girls asking, "Am I pretty or ugly?"

Moms, have your daughters ever asked you if they're pretty? In most cases, it's normal for young girls to worry about their looks, particularly in the difficult teen and late pre-adolescent years. But lately this self-consciousness seems to have spurred a new trend in which girls are taking to YouTube to ask strangers one question: "Am I pretty or ugly?"


One such clip shows a girl wearing a koala hat, talking into the camera and sharing pictures of herself that she thinks will help the public evaluate her looks. "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," she says. The clip, originally posted Dec. 17, 2010, has more than 4 million views and more than 114,000 comments that range widely from encouraging to extremely hateful.

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 "I think you're very pretty…but it doesnt matter what others think sweety!!! It's you! It's your opinion that matters," one commenter said.  

Another wasn't nearly as nice, replying, "You're not ugly, but you are an attention whore."

And this is just one of several recent instances in which teens have turned to the public for validation. In December, another girl created a similar video, asking, "People say I'm ugly. So tell me, am I?" Another clip asking the same question was created in May 2010.

So, what is the deal with this new, disturbing fad? Well, if you think about how quickly teenage trends typically take off and the feeling of anonymity that people—especially young teens--often feel online, the whole thing starts to make sense. Combine that with a parent's inability to monitor every portion of their kid's online activity and the premise behind the videos become even clearer.  

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The problem is that these girls are basically setting themselves up for harsh criticism. They are putting their already fragile self-esteem in the hands of anonymous viewers who don't know or care about them --and therefore, don't think about the consequences their callous comments can have.

"They're very young, very naïve and very unaware of the fact they're prompting a stream of vicious attacks," Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist specializing in treating teens, told CNN.

For me, watching the videos and scrolling through the comments was both heartbreaking and painful, especially because I am super closer to my cousin of the same age. It was so devastatingly obvious that all these girls want is approval –and that's why they were so willing to turn to the public for answers. At the same time, the making of these videos reveals a dangerous part of a teenager's mind frame, one which is so focused on appearance and the opinions of others that they don't think twice about putting themselves in the position to be judged. It's not just risky, it's hideously self-destructive. And the fact that some of the teens are as young as 10 years old only highlights that something is definitely wrong.

YouTube has to start monitoring their videos more closely and parents have to pay more attention to what their kids are doing online. It's extremely important in protecting the children's safety and self-worth. After all, having people mock them and poke fun at their insecurities is the last thing any teen needs.

 Watch one girl's video here:

What do you think of the trend? Do you think it's a problem or no big deal?

Image via YouTube

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