Image: Dove Self-Esteem Project
Parent Zone has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to offer parents advice and information to help children and young people build confidence and feel good about themselves. This time, we look at the online craze of ‘Am I pretty?’ videos, where young people ask others to judge them on their looks
When you were growing up, you probably turned to your best friend or your diary when you needed to pour your heart out or share your insecurities – not to a global audience. But these days, young women may upload videos of themselves to public online forums in which they talk to the camera about their appearance and ask the question: ‘Am I pretty or ugly?’ or ‘How pretty am I?’
Why are ‘Am I pretty?’ videos and posts popular?
Search ‘Am I pretty?’ or ‘Am I ugly?’ online and you'll find millions of links to photos and videos of girls aged nine to 13 asking these questions.*
There are various theories as to why this trend has gone viral – boredom, attention-seeking, simple curiosity. However, one common thread is that these girls have often already been teased or bullied about their appearance offline – and have taken to the internet to confirm or negate it.
Cammy Nelson, a media literacy speaker and activist, says: ‘They’ve placed their self-esteem in the hands of the bigger world that is the internet. Twenty “Likes” on a selfie is worth more than a compliment.’
Unfortunately, feedback can be negative as well as positive.
Protecting your daughter from the lure of the ‘Am I pretty?’ test
Research has shown a correlation between appearance-related teasing and body dissatisfaction. Unsurprisingly, an association also exists between negative weight-related comments and eating disorders.
Part of protecting your daughter from these risks is being informed.
Staying on top of the latest technology and social media sites can be overwhelming, so talk to her about her social media usage and who she's sharing photos and videos with.
Start a conversation about the ‘Am I pretty?’ trend. Chances are she's heard of someone who's done it – or perhaps even tried it herself. Discuss why posting an ‘Am I pretty or ugly?’ video, or seeking feedback about her body from strangers, can be harmful.
Tips for parents
- Remind her that beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes. Explain that what she looks like is only a small part of who she is and shouldn’t overshadow her skills and talents.
- View a few ‘Am I pretty?’ videos with your daughter. Start a discussion about why she thinks these girls are seeking approval from strangers. Express and encourage compassion for these girls and avoid being judgemental.
- Ask her to tell you if she or a friend has been, or is being, bullied online. Reassure her that she won’t be in trouble and you only want to help.
- Don’t prevent her using social media. That could lead her to use it in ways where you can't monitor her. Make her aware of privacy settings on social media sites and ensure she doesn’t share private information, such as her phone number or email address, in public.
- Discuss the potential dangers of putting photos and videos of herself online – particularly those that, like the ‘Am I pretty’ test, involve her self-esteem. Remind her that, even if she deletes something, it may never be completely erased – even if it appears like it has been at the time.
Read, download or print the free Uniquely Me parent guide
This downloadable pdf contains expert advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts from the fields of psychology, body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action. Click on Files: Uniquely Me parent guide.pdf at the foot of the page to download.
Teachers: for free downloadable teaching resources, go to the Dove Self-Esteem Project area on ParentZone.org.uk
* Parents should note that users should be 13 to sign up to most social media services.
These pages are brought to you by Parent Zone and the Dove Self-Esteem Project