When I first saw this video, my heart just crumbled into pieces for these little girls.
In this instance, girls as young as five to 10 years old are asking a question that goes way beyond their physical appearance. The question that they are asking may seem simple enough at first. But, the act of asking this question and the feedback that they get in return can have devastating effects on these fragile young girls’ self esteems, when they are only barely beginning to blossom into young ladies.
The disturbing question that they are asking is: “Am I pretty, or am I ugly?”
And they are asking their viewers to be brutally honest with their answers.
This is not a small problem. In fact, it seems to be a growing epidemic. It is estimated that over 500,000 of these vulnerable girls have looked into a recording device and made these videos that they have then posted onto YouTube.
Where ever these girls go, social media will be following them and it does not always end up as a pretty picture for those with shaky self esteem issues, which are so prevalent during the pre-teen and teen years.
Social media has been an amazing tool for so many, yet for the youngest girls, it can be a double edged sword offering a wealth of knowledge and entertainment on one hand, and dishing out a brutal punishment in the form of the harsh comments (that they receive in response to their queries) on the other.
I can’t help but think about what is causing these girls to wonder aloud in front of a video camera, when it used to be something girls thought and worried about in private but rarely asked before; especially of strangers.
Are they so integrated into their online lives that they feel as if these strangers out there are their friends? Do they naively assume the best in people, thinking that their viewers are people similar to themselves?
Or is it a deeper problem due to society’s unachievable expectations about how girls should look?
With all of the airbrushing and photo shopping going on, these girls are growing up with unreal ideas about how real girls and women actually appear.
They are becoming more and more desperate just to find out if they are ‘normal’ in order to calm their fears about their appearances.
And our youth of today is much smarter and more computer savvy than many of their parents realize. My own 12 year old son made a video for YouTube (not showing his face, thank goodness) and I had no idea until one day he told me proudly, “Hey mom, my video has gotten over 10,000 hits!” Come again?
Needless to say I was surprised and my husband and I had to have a frank talk about internet safety that day. We also put additional protective filters on the computer that our son hopefully won’t figure out a way around again. But he is smart and I worry, as I should. It can be a harsh world out there in cyberspace.
I think the same situation is playing out within the lives of these girls and their parents—meaning that their parents are in the dark as to what their daughters have been up to with these videos.
They probably have no idea how their daughters are feeling and that they are using YouTube as an interactive video diary to get their feelings across, while hoping for good feedback.
Parents need to become more aware of what is out in the world today. Kids have a whole new language when it comes to the internet, drugs and more.
My hope is that people will educate their daughters, and sons, for that matter, on the true meaning of being beautiful. These girls were created exactly as was intended.
They are all beautiful inside and out—each and every last one of them.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman