Viewpoint 2/24: Am I Ugly?

For every generation, growing up is hard. Each person goes through an awkward stage where he or she wonders whether or not he or she is normal or talented or beautiful.

Due to the rise of kids on the Internet, today’s youth might have more problems than most.

Recently, a series of videos have gone up on YouTube asking, “Am I ugly?” These videos mostly feature teen girls questioning whether or not they’re attractive. The videos are flooded with comments, a lot of which are hurtful and damaging to young teens. While there are some positive comments, even those comments can ultimately send the wrong message about the importance of physical attractiveness and the social acceptability of turning to millions of faceless strangers for validation of it. Comments that glorify these videos could encourage these girls to continue posting them, even become addicted to the instant gratification they offer, while cruel ones could fuel some girls’ masochistic addictions to self-pity (not uncommon among adolescents).

It’s not just a few videos, either. There are pages full of these videos.

Recently there have been many cases of online bullying, and multiple kids have committed suicide because of things said online. If teens let others dictate their supposed beauty, it can be damaging to their personality, attitude and self-worth.

The struggles with youth and self-image go further than online videos. Recently, Levi Jeans Company came under scrutiny when they released an ad for their jeans that tailor to all sizes of women. The only problem is all the models in the ad were basically the same size. These messages say that the worth of people is in their looks, and this can be very detrimental to impressionable teens.

Most of the girls in the videos probably aren’t mature enough to know how to handle the cruel or hard criticisms that might be posted on their videos. They’re too young, and this could result to drastic measures to fit the mold that society has created for beauty.

Multiple news agencies have covered stories about the videos and the effects they have on children and families. Many girls and mothers have talked to the media about the damages that have come from the videos, and how they have been hurt by comments made on YouTube. Even if some of the comments are meant to be in jest, the girls very well might be damaged by them.

Also, people generally tend to be more willing to say mean or hurtful things on the Internet than in person. The words could escalate quickly.

The idea that beauty is the most important thing can lead teens to anxiety and unhealthy choices with dangerous consequences.

Things like the “Am I Ugly?” videos and the ads which make women and girls feel as if they must fit one specific mold in order to be considered beautiful are wrong. This could be partly helped by more parents being more involved in monitoring their children online. They should be involved and be aware if their kids are struggling with self-esteem issues, or if they are victims of cyber-bullying.

Every child wants to fit in. Everyone knows what it’s like to be in middle school and have to worry about popularity, the number of friends you have, and looks, on top of the worries of school.

Unless things change, society will continue to push its fake, unattainable model of what is beautiful, and the youth of today will have more and more problems to deal with — especially if they keep turning to the faceless, often brutal online community to deal with them.