A young teenage girl stares into the camera and poses a vulnerable question: "Am I ugly? Please be honest. Am I?"
Unfortunately, it's not a rhetorical question. Teenage girls ask few of them. She truly wants to know. And to know - in her book - means asking potentially hundreds of thousands of strangers for feedback.
I'm too old to know what started this trend on Youtube, or why it's picked up so much. When I was a teenager, we dodged criticism and ridicule; we didn't invite it. And we certainly didn't make videos seeking it out.
The feedback, by and large, is as discouraging as you'd expect an anonymous group of posters would give. They range from "Your forehead is more like an eight-head" to inappropriate sexual innuendo. Essentially, you're "good enough to _______." Most of these girls look well under 16.
Parents, monitor your teens' internet use like it's border patrol, no matter how unpopular it makes you to them. I hated my father with hormonal teenage passion from 1987-1994. Today, I love and respect him more than anyone else. Why? Because he never worried about us being "friends" when I was growing up. He worried about raising me the best he could, even if it meant I temporarily hated him for it. This is the natural push and pull of parent-child boundaries that precedes a healthy adulthood.
More importantly, where are young teenage girls getting such a drive for approval over their looks? This is never where their entire sense of self-worth should come from. Has our culture dipped so far into an obsession with looks that these girls are willing to risk scathing feedback? Are parents sitting down with their teens to discuss self-worth and how it's based on so much more than something that will fade over time and can be lost instantly?
And why is this "Am I ugly?" question being asked of anonymous posters who will inevitably and cowardly feed on their insecurities?
I don't blame these young girls. I want to hug them. I also want to firmly tell them this is like pouring black ink into your heart and soul. It's one of the most destructive things you could do to yourself. The trend needs to stop. Youtube won't do it. The parents need to.