As a parent, I worry about my daughters' self-images a lot. I worry about them hearing their classmates say “I'm fat” and wondering if that means they need to lose weight – at 8 years old. I worry about the sexualization of little girls at a younger and younger age.
I also worry about a disturbing YouTube trend where preteen girls post videos of themselves, asking viewers to respond to some variation of the question “am I pretty or ugly?” It takes cyberbullying to a whole new level.
Your preteen (and teen) daughters are probably struggling with these same kinds of questions: Am I smart? Am I cool? Am I pretty? Wrestling with these types of insecurities is part of growing up. The part that dismays me is not that these preteens are asking the question “am I pretty or ugly?” but that they are asking it to several million strangers on YouTube and emtional kids safety is at an all time low.
Posting your insecurities on the Internet (and in the process opening yourself up to all kinds of abusive comments and making yourself an easy target for cyberbullies) is a lack of good judgment and maturity. Perhaps it's partially for this reason that YouTube requires users to be at least 13 years old in order to post videos.
Talk to your kids, especially your daughters, about posting this kind of stuff. Ask if they've heard about the “am I pretty or ugly” videos, and what they think of the girls who post them. What's a better way to work through these questions than posting them on YouTube?