As a teenage volunteer in Greenwich I spend a lot of time around younger children and have the occasion to observe how they are when they're alone, versus how they act when they're in groups or with their close friends. It really saddens me to see how vulnerable they make themselves by asking for approval from their fellow eight-year-olds.
For example, if I'm in the bathroom and see a wolfpack of eight-years-olds complaining about how they look, I always try to build them up.
So, it shocked me to learn about a current trend among children of going on YouTube to ask millions of anonymous viewers this question: "Am I ugly?" I first learned about this on the MSN website, where the YouTube link of a girl roughly 12-years-old asks whether or not she is in fact ugly.
Then I learned there are thousands upon thousands of similar videos such as this one of another girl who appears to be about 8-years-old. This girl looks about the same age of kids I volunteer with.
I think that the reality TV format with shows like "Jersey Shore" and "Real World" have erased the boundary between what is private and what you can bear to the public. There's an expression teenagers use: "TMI" which means too much information. Similarly these young kids on Youtube are mimicking that exact behavior, only with much more severe consequences. Everyone feels unattractive some days, but bearing your soul is not the answer to improving your self esteem.
Internet trolls have absolutely no mercy
These kids posting videos are completely vulnerable. Cyber-bullying is already a problem and children are setting themselves up for the full potential of a scarry mass pile on. Their opinion of themselves is so low that they might instead ask "Do I Have Low Self-Esteem?" YouTube viewers couldn't care less about your self esteem. Anonymous internet trolls will have absolutely no mercy.
Looks are supposed to be uninportant, that's what we've been told. But there is a new era of superficiality causing girls to conform to a fake ideal of "beauty." Beauty comes in different shapes, colors and sizes, but they're depending on the media to tell them that long blonde hair and blue eyes is beautiful. But if someone has brown hair and dark brown eyes, does that mean they are not equally beautiful? How can it be that you are not beautiful until someone tells you that you are?
My advice to these poor kids who feel the need to question their self-worth and appearance is to find someone you respect and trust, to share the difficulties you are going through.