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

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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