Middle school is often looked upon as the building years for one’s self image. As hormones become involved in a teen’s development and puberty hits, self esteem is more fragile than ever before. Yet a new trend among teenagers — mostly girls — shows them putting themselves at the mercy of the internet in determining their own beauty. Using YouTube as the means of communication, these teens are posting videos, asking viewers to decide on whether or not they are attractive.
The most troubling part of this trend is that many of the teens involved are 13 or younger, violating YouTube’s terms of service.
Asking questions like, “Am I beautiful?” or “Why don’t I have a boyfriend?” has been effective for these teens in fostering thousands — and in some cases millions — of views. The teens are then bombarded with comments from viewers, both positive and negative, who evaluate the teen on their own terms with no fear of repercussions.
The decision to put a video of yourself online and asking others to evaluate you can only result in psychological and emotional damage, especially during puberty, a fragile period of physical and emotional development.
Comments that appeared when I scanned a few of these videos include a user comparing a teenage girl’s looks to that of a squirrel, and another user commenting, “Childish, and really greasy.”
However, not all comments made by users while viewing these videos are negative. One comment said “God made you beautiful, and this is silly,” while another wrote, “Yes, you are beautiful on the outside, but is that what really matters?”
When I reflect upon my time in middle school, my attitude about who I was as a person reflects that of most of my peers. They were my awkward years, a time for self discovery and figuring out who I was as a person. However, the decisions I made about myself were made by me, without those around me dictating who I was.
I cannot fathom putting a video up and asking for critique from the cyber world. Even though most of the videos are created by teenage girls, an emotional state that I cannot relate to because I am male, I do not understand why these girls would subject themselves to the often harsh opinions of anonymous users.
Yet the blame cannot fully be placed on these teenagers. YouTube must become more stringent on monitoring what is posted on its site and not allow the content these young teens post.
These teenagers need to turn their webcams off and stop asking the public to dictate their beauty. Friends and family are the most important resources to rely on during middle school years, especially in helping determine who you are as a person.