Should we be worried that so many young girls are posting “Am I pretty?” videos online?

posted at 3:05 pm on March 6, 2012 by Tina Korbe

According to CBS Philly, it’s a thing: Young girls actually post videos of themselves to YouTube accompanied by the pleading question, “Am I pretty?” Predictably, their peers and school counselors have expressed concern:

It’s a disturbing online sight, repeated hundreds if not thousands of times: girls, young teens or even younger, posting videos of themselves on YouTube asking the public to tell them if they are pretty.

For a 12- or 13-year-old, image is everything.  Many students at Haddonfield Middle School said they had seen these videos and found them troubling.

“Well, I feel really bad for the girls, that they have gotten to the point where they have to post videos,” said seventh grader Annie Gosse.  “They’ve probably been bullied at school about it.  And I feel like it’s really sad that they’ve gotten to that point, and they should get help before they do that.” …

“I think it’s a tough age for self-esteem,” notes school counselor Danielle McKelvey.  “It’s so important for kids of this age to know what everyone else is thinking.  And what we want to do is try to build them up so they feel good about themselves and not open it up to something that could be so seemingly negative.”

Should we be worried? Well, no — and yes.

No, because it’s perfectly normal for a middle school girl to want to be pretty and to seek affirmation that she is. Secular society likes to deny gender differences, but those of us who recognize the reality of them acknowledge that “a desire to be beautiful” is pretty quintessentially female. Better to teach girls how to be beautiful — positive personality traits are important ingredients of attractiveness and a little grooming goes a long way — than to try to quash girls’ irrepressible wishes to be pretty with unrealistic sentences like, “Looks don’t matter.” Looks aren’t everything, but they do matter and it’s pointless to deny that. (Incidentally, another reason not to worry: Not all these seemingly insecure tween girls are who they purport to be.)

But, on the other hand, yes, because Internet communities can be pretty vicious and these girls probably have no idea what they’ve invited upon themselves. Internet commenters can find flaws in the looks of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston and flaws in the intellects of Charles Krauthammer and Mark Steyn. No way to please everybody.

Let’s just hope these girls who are earnestly posting videos online have supportive families and eventually graduate from their obsession with looks alone to a desire to develop as a whole person.

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I once saw an old man in his 80s carded at Walgreens while buying smokes. Yes, I said that to deliberately torpedo your hope at feeling younger.

Although, I’d bet you do, too.

MadisonConservative on March 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Heh. I just get sick of people telling me I’ll appreciate it when I’m older. Plus, it wouldn’t be so bad if most people knew when talking to me that I’m adult.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

It would certainly be nice to put the genie of Teh Intrawebz back in the bottle, but alas, we can’t.

Good Lt on March 6, 2012 at 5:01 PM

I am far too addicted to ever actually want that. Though I might get more work done.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

uh, society/media places more pressure more pressure on girls to look good. it’s not inherent, it’s because of all the pressures media places. i can’t believe you don’t realize that. if you look at pop culture, TV, magazines, advertising… haven’t you noticed that media acts like it’s more important for girls to look good than guys? girls are under a lot of pressure to look “perfect” in face, hair, and especally body type, i can’t emphasize that enough.

First, learn how to use standard spelling. I like some of e.e. cummings’ work, but that’s poetry. In regular discourse, following conventions aids in understanding.

To the point of your comment. Is it society or is it other women? Women dress to impress other women, not to attract men.


and please guys don’t whine about “but society pressures guys to look good too” lol. yes there are pressures on guys but not nearly as much as girls. i don’t want to hear it.

Surveys show that 80% of women, of all heights, will simply refuse to date a man who is shorter than 5’8″ tall.

it breaks my heart when i see girls say “i’m so ugly” or something.

I write about cars and over the years I’ve gotten to know some of the models who work the big auto shows. Almost all of them know that they’re more attractive than average, but just about all of them also are a little bit insecure about their looks and they appreciate an honest compliment. The simple truth is that most men find it attractive when a woman doesn’t think she’s a pretty as men think she is. That’s far more appealing than someone who thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips too.


i obviously am very concerned about media/culture’s pressures on girls and tina, you seem to not be as concerned as i am.

I’m far more concerned with a media and culture that demeans men and fails to give boys any positive messages about being males. I’m far more concerned with an educational system that treats normal male behavior as a disease. I’m far more concerned about the number of young men that commit suicide than the number of young women who feign attempts.

Just face it, females are neurotic about their looks.

rokemronnie on March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

I was watching ear wax removal videos when I linked to one of these girls asking “am I pretty”.

Odd moment and I’d wondered how I had gotten there.

rickyricardo on March 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Junior high tween experience is not for the faint of heart, regardless of your appearance. Honestly would not wish it on my worse enemy.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 3:19 PM

The “being a junior high tween” part, or the “being a parent of a junior high tween” part?

Kensington on March 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

The “being a junior high tween” part, or the “being a parent of a junior high tween” part?

Kensington on March 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I meant the former, but honestly the latter works just as well.

My awkward years were mostly elementary, but I know that was not easy on my parents. My mother has only recently told me I was maybe overly sensitive to what those kids were saying to me. Apparently she didn’t think she could say that earlier. :)

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

The girls first “boyfriend” is her dad…and she learns how a man treats a woman from the way a dad treats their mom, and treats her. With the utmost respect and honor.
So if you daughter is doing what you don’t want them to…look at yourself, and learn how to be a role model for your daughter.

right2bright on March 6, 2012 at 3:53 PM

… I also always, showed respect to her mother, as a wife, lady, and mother.
My daughter learned from the very beginning how she deserved to be respected, and honored by the boys and eventually men in her life.

She never “hungered” for the attention of a male, she never allowed herself to be disrespected.

right2bright on March 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM

And looks begin with attitude, confidence…not every woman is blessed with being “pretty”, but a lot of girls are considered pretty because they carry themselves with dignity and grace….

right2bright on March 6, 2012 at 3:54 PM

(emphasis added)
All of your points bear repeating because they are so true, and they apply just as well the other direction: if you want your sons to be good men, show them how much you love and respect their father.
Kind of hard to do when the father isn’t around, or is a real bum, but you can still teach the same lesson by seeking out good role models and arranging for them to spend time with your boys.
(Insert standard caveat about vetting their character and staying informed about the relationship.)
Not everyone can luck into a couple of “Uncles” like the ones in this all-time great movie:

Teach your sons to respect others, ESPECIALLY when those others are not respecting themselves. When American boys are allowed to grow and mature into American men, look out world!

Uncle Hub’s “What Every Young Man Needs To Know” speech, Secondhand Lions

Christien on March 6, 2012 at 4:08 PM

This quares with my recollections of school (emphasis added:

When I was in jr. high/high school, the girls who were the most vocal in asking this question were the girls who were convinced they would get a positive answer. The girls who really thought they were unattractive didn’t ask.

So, to me, it sounds like a ploy for attention or like fishing for compliments–which might still be an indication of unmet psychological needs and maybe deep insecurity. But I don’t think it really has all that much to do with whether the girls wonder if they are pretty or not.

butterflies and puppies on March 6, 2012 at 4:32 PM

I don’t remember that either the really attractive or the really homely girls ever courted the flattery; it was the middling ones trying on different looks to see if they had “got it right” yet.

Actually, I take that back. If you just flatout told a girl she was a little plainer than average, she could theoretically build a little bit of character out of the experience. But playing these idiotic mind games tells the girl she’s such a complete freak show that she can’t even cope with the truth.

logis on March 6, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Truth trumps lies, because then she can choose what to do about her appearance, and especially her attitude, as right2bright said.

An interesting exploration of beauty vs. character formed the the basis of Pier’s Anthony’s very first Xanth novel, “A Spell for Chameleon”.
A good one to read and discuss with your kids (if you’re willing to get them started on Anthony’s excruciatingly punny, and progressively less satisfactory, books).

I sometimes wonder if children should experience puberty locked away from polite society.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Mark Twain gave this advice (which shows up in different forms all over the ‘net, and is probably tempting to parents of girls as well):
When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole.
When he turns 16, plug up the hole.

(this is a better site but didn’t have the quote I wanted)

AesopFan on March 6, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Heh. I just get sick of people telling me I’ll appreciate it when I’m older. Plus, it wouldn’t be so bad if most people knew when talking to me that I’m adult.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Maybe you need to start a trend of YouTube videos asking if you look like an adult.

And you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.

MadisonConservative on March 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Maybe you need to start a trend of YouTube videos asking if you look like an adult.

And you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.

MadisonConservative on March 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

I’ve missed you. You should blog more.

That said, “legal or not” would be an interesting blog…

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 6:29 PM

I’m more worried about Tina and why she would even waste her time blogging about something so unbelievably stupid.

Spliff Menendez on March 6, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Not-so-subtle Charles Krauthammer and Mark Steyn trolling….

PS – Tina, you’re pretty. ;)

Lord on March 6, 2012 at 7:39 PM

A woman’s looks and age are by far the main determinants of her dating value. All other qualities are pretty much “also rans”.

So of course women should post videos asking if they’re pretty, and improving what they can: this is important stuff.

Random on March 6, 2012 at 7:41 PM

I’ve missed you. You should blog more.

Esthier on March 6, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Workin’ on it, workin’ on it.

MadisonConservative on March 6, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Every couple of weeks I picked up my daughter after school and we went to the yogurt shop, and talked…every year, at least once, we dressed up and went to dinner, just the two of us, and we talked, a different kind of talk, a formal fun talk.
Every year, we had a father daughter dance, I went and danced with her…and I also always, showed respect to her mother, as a wife, lady, and mother.
My daughter learned from the very beginning how she deserved to be respected, and honored by the boys and eventually men in her life.

She never “hungered” for the attention of a male, she never allowed herself to be disrespected.

Your daughter should count her blessings. I know a young lady (a good friend of my son) whose father died of early Alzheimers when she was a freshman in college. She has essentially no good memories of a father in her life. The first time I met her, it was clear that she desperately needed an older man to talk to. That has not changed (I still see her regularly) even though she is now nearly 40. She is successful in her career but essentially adrift in her personal life. I do not think that this will happen to your daughter.

Owen Glendower on March 6, 2012 at 9:42 PM

She’s not pretty.

Kensington on March 6, 2012 at 5:21 PM

And they’ve succeeded in telling everyone not to say that.

Jim Treacher on March 6, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Waiting for the “Does this dress make me look fat?” video.

Answer: “It’s not the dress.”

The Rock on March 6, 2012 at 9:58 PM

I have to disagree slightly with some points, such as comments like these:

Secular society likes to deny gender differences, but those of us who recognize the reality of them acknowledge that “a desire to be beautiful” is pretty quintessentially female

I am a female who was a tom boy when very young.

I didn’t really have a “desire to be beautiful.”

I showered every day and combed my hair and looked presentable and like a normal 12 year old girl, but many girls my age were already wearing full make up and looked like 45 year old hookers, but they got all the boyfriends and dates.

Those of us who didn’t look that way, or who did not wear trendy clothes, got bullied a lot.

I didn’t really care about fashion or what I looked like. I was interested in reading books, listening to music, writing stories, drawing – not in what I looked like.

I was okay with who I was; it was other people (mostly kids my age) who made a big deal out of my appearance that of other females.

I was harassed so much for my looks that I changed my outward appearance by my late teens (began wearing make up, got contact lenses, wore short skirts, etc), and begin getting male attention (guys flirting with me), which I was not after.

I just did not want to be bullied any longer.

So it wasn’t true for me that I cared about what I looked like all that much, I just got tired of being harassed for “being ugly,” or for not wearing the trendy clothes.

Quote by original author:

Let’s just hope these girls who are earnestly posting videos online have supportive families and eventually graduate from their obsession with looks alone to a desire to develop as a whole person.

If their experience was like mine when I was a teen and pre-teen, I was interested in being a “whole person,” but it was the jerks and idiots I went to school who made my looks an issue, not me.

I was fine going through life sans make up and not being obsessive about my looks, I was not into fashion magazines at that age either, but the kids I went to school with wouldn’t let me be.

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 10:46 PM

I think this is the natural human condition and not a media driven narrative that did not exist in the past. Men and women have different sets of criteria for judging the opposite sex when it comes to relationships. My concern though is not so much the portrayal of women as desirable creatures, but the devaluation of women with our promotion of promiscuous behavior. Women in the last four decades have lost a great deal of power when it comes to male, female relationships.

NotCoach on March 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I think modern media (TV, magazines, movies, and now the internet) makes things worse.

Now only one or two standards of beauty exist and are held up for everyone to see across the nation (such as Angelina Jolie; she is held up by 99% of the media as being the perfect woman, what all females should look like. I just don’t think that sort of phenomenon existed prior to modern mass media).

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Parents should teach girls to ask “Have I learned enough? Am I working to become who I want to be?”. Allowing others to define them and relying on looks rather than achievement is a almost always a long-term losing proposition.

OptionsTrader on March 6, 2012 at 3:36 PM

But not all girls are trying to make it on looks.
As I said above, when I was a kid/teen, I was a book worm, I tried to develop interests not having anything to do with looks, but most of my peers (and the amgazines, TV, music videos) all told me I should care #1 about my looks and #2 about getting a boyfriend.

It’s not the girls who care about looks, or the ones who try to coast thru life on their looks, it’s society and movies and teen males who tell them they have to look a certain way if they want to be happy, valued, get a man, etc.

It’s really hard when you’re a girl growing up to tune out and disregard the message you get from family, peers, mags, movies, boys at school, that only your looks matter – it’s very hard to not let others define you, also since society and many families teach females to care more about the opinions and needs of others than their own needs/ opinions.

Many females are taught to be non confrontational and not to challenge people (but most males are given permission by family and society to be bold, speak up, disagree etc).

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 10:59 PM

I think the reason that media/pop culture are currently putting more pressure on females is BECAUSE they can. And I believe that they can because it’s inherently female – psychological effects on the psyche.

blink on March 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Wrong. Not true for all females.

When I was a teen, I was not into looks.

But I sure got hell from 99% of boys and girls way back when at that age – they were the ones obsessed with looks and fashion, not me.

I just wanted to read, listen to music, etc.

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Women dress to impress other women, not to attract men.

rokemronnie on March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Not always, no.

When teens and hetero-sexual 20- something females wear low-plunging necklines to show off their cleavage, that’s to gain male attention, not female.

Surveys show that 80% of women, of all heights, will simply refuse to date a man who is shorter than 5’8″ tall.
rokemronnie on March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

The person to whom you were replying here admitted that males do face some pressure to look a certain way, but I think her point still stands: women (and girls) face far, far more pressure (from friends, advertising, movies, family) than males do to look a certain way and to be stick thin. Even among some conservatives.

I’m far more concerned with a media and culture that demeans men and fails to give boys any positive messages about being males. I’m far more concerned with an educational system that treats normal male behavior as a disease. I’m far more concerned about the number of young men that commit suicide than the number of young women who feign attempts.
Just face it, females are neurotic about their looks.

rokemronnie on March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Young girls who attempt suicide are not all “feigning.”

Females who attempt suicide usually use different methods, ones that are not always as lethal as what males choose. To suggest such females are only “play acting” at killing themselves and only to get sympathy (and not that they are truly hurting emotionally, which they are) is very insensitive.

I think males get preferential treatment in classrooms, and some studies I’ve seen have borne that out – and I lived it personally.

In many classes I took as a teen, boys were called on for answers more often than females.

Teachers seemed to care more about what males thought on any given topic and would let them ramble on; they would cut females off.

If a female was called on in classes I was in, the teacher would help the female out, but let the male figure out the problem on his own (as though the female was too inept to go it alone).

In math classes particularly, if a female got the wrong answers when called on, the teachers would permit -and not silence- the males who would giggle at her wrong answer, call her “stupid” in front the of entire class, etc. Guys usually didn’t try to humiliate other guys who got the wrong answer, not in my experience, but they’d try to embarrass the females.

It made all females in class reluctant to speak up and participate in class.

Girls then learn to keep their opinions and thoughts to themselves and not take risks and chances in life, which totally damages them as they go into their 20s and beyond.

Girls were given the shaft in public schools for decades, which is why I can’t sit and be completely sympathetic to all the hand-wringing I see on threads like these about how males are supposedly being shortchanged in schools these days. Girls have been shortchanged in education for years.

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 11:25 PM

Exceptions to generalities don’t make the generalities untrue.

blink on March 6, 2012 at 11:11 PM

I don’t think most or all girls care about looks – you’re assuming they do. I say it’s society and Hollywood and teen males who care & pressure the girls to look a certain way..

TigerPaw on March 6, 2012 at 11:26 PM

Females who attempt suicide usually use different methods, ones that are not always as lethal as what males choose. To suggest such females are only “play acting” at killing themselves and only to get sympathy (and not that they are truly hurting emotionally, which they are) is very insensitive.

You completely missed my point, but actually end up demonstrating it. It seems to me that your concern about girls who attempt suicide and your cavalier attitude towards the boys who actually commit suicide is far more insensitive than anything that I suggested.

I think males get preferential treatment in classrooms, and some studies I’ve seen have borne that out – and I lived it personally.

Well, since the majority of teachers are women, you can’t exactly blame that on men, can you?

In many classes I took as a teen, boys were called on for answers more often than females.

Boys raise their hands more often than girls do. Males are risk takers. A lot of those boys raising their hands don’t have the correct answer, but they’re willing to take a chance.

Teachers seemed to care more about what males thought on any given topic and would let them ramble on; they would cut females off.

I graduated from high school in 1972 and saw nothing like that.

If a female was called on in classes I was in, the teacher would help the female out, but let the male figure out the problem on his own (as though the female was too inept to go it alone).

Wait a second. I thought all the nurturing and collaborative stuff that females do was good. Also, see my note above about the majority of teachers being females. Stop blaming us guys for stuff you women do.

In math classes particularly, if a female got the wrong answers when called on, the teachers would permit -and not silence- the males who would giggle at her wrong answer, call her “stupid” in front the of entire class, etc. Guys usually didn’t try to humiliate other guys who got the wrong answer, not in my experience, but they’d try to embarrass the females.

In math that’s called an anecdote.

I took honors math through high school, with two female teachers and one male teacher. The classes were not quite 50/50 but weren’t overwhelmingly male. Nobody got snickered at or called stupid.

It made all females in class reluctant to speak up and participate in class.

Learn a lesson from a strong woman. Golda Meir said that you’re only intimidated when you let people intimidate you.

Girls then learn to keep their opinions and thoughts to themselves and not take risks and chances in life, which totally damages them as they go into their 20s and beyond.

Right, because men haven’t been getting bashed for the last 40 years by harridans like Sandra Fluke and Nancy Pelosi. I’m sorry but I don’t have a single female relative who can keep her opinions to herself.

Girls were given the shaft in public schools for decades,

When, the ’40s, the ’50s? My older sister had outstanding opportunities in public high school in the ’60s and my female classmates had the same opportunities that I had in the ’70s. There were almost as many highly ranked girls in my high school class as boys. That disparity is probably due to the fact that there are more brilliant men than brilliant women (and more profoundly retarded men than women as well), not discriminatory behavior that confounded girls. The head of the math department in my high school was a woman and she taught the calculus class (though Mr. Powers, my algebra trig teacher, was probably a bit smarter).

which is why I can’t sit and be completely sympathetic to all the hand-wringing I see on threads like these about how males are supposedly being shortchanged in schools these days.

Not supposedly. The college entrance stats don’t lie.

Girls have been shortchanged in education for years.

Keep playing the victim. Meanwhile law and medical schools are at least 50% female, veterinary schools are 80% female, and on many college campuses 60% of the undergrads are female.

Frankly I’m glad that so many women take contraceptives. They’d be toxic to their sons and they’d turn their daughters into good little misandrists.

rokemronnie on March 7, 2012 at 3:54 AM

rokemronnie on March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Appreciate your comments. As a mother of a son and a daughter, it is easy to see how “maleness” gets disparaged without reproach in too many ways. You touch on those well. I say “hooray” for men. Real Men. Makes me want to be a Real Woman!

Spliff Menendez on March 6, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Save your “worry” for something that merits it. TK knows what she’s doing more than you know. Out of the 1000 posts I’m guessing she’s written at HA since joining us, there’s bound to be some for everyone. If a post doesn’t interest you, go on to the next.

bntafraid on March 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

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