Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: March 29th, 2012
Am I pretty? Why do ‘tween girls seek validation online?

This week, I’m working on an article for this newspaper about the rash of YouTube videos posted by young girls who fall into the ‘tweener category, though not exclusively. Plenty of young teen girls are also posting “Am I pretty?” videos, seeking public input about their looks.

While I hate to promote Internet hits for these videos, you should see at least one of them so you know what I am talking about.

But if you choose not to, here is a sample:

One girl, unidentified except for her online name, “carlosjose101,” writes a comment under her video, “LOTS of people say I’m ugly, and I just want to know the truth! By the way, I’m not just trying to get attention, and also, don’t just say I’m ugly- actually describe how I am so unattractive!”

Of the 41 comments to date, the majority are reassuring. But there are some that are critical and antagonistic, such as, “Ugh. People like you (attention whores) need to jump off a bridge into a lake of lava.”

This type of comment is an example of trolling, which in social media jargon, means posting a response with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response (i.e., baiting) or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I have just started the interview process for the piece. One of my burning questions–having never had a daughter–is this: What happens to girls as they approach puberty that makes them so insecure? I have seen this in my own life, I have seen it in the lives of friends with daughters, and clearly, I have seen it online with the eruption of these types of videos.

Girls who appear to be well loved, well adjusted and grounded become self conscious, insecure and unsure about their looks and even their character as they get into puberty. This is the scary time for many parents.

The argument has been made that the young girls posting “Am I pretty?” videos aren’t necessarily insecure. They just want validation that, yes, they are indeed attractive. Because they are so young and don’t truly understand the ramifications of posting something on social media, they are unprepared for the tone and intensity of the feedback.

But then again, who is?


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One comment on “Am I pretty? Why do ‘tween girls seek validation online?

  1. Clearly, their parents neglect to nurture their self-esteem. Ergo, the urgent need to get approval from strangers.

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