Dear Young Girls on YouTube,
A few days ago, I watched a video on Upworthy that really struck a chord with me. This video has since been pulled from the site and replaced with a video that reminds me of our Self Love Project, but it was a compilation of young girls going onto Youtube, posting a video of themselves and asking people to respond in the comment section to the question “Am I pretty or ugly?”
This was the heading over the video: “I first saw one of these a few months ago and then discovered it’s very common, but I had no idea that there were over 500,000 of these videos out there. Perhaps if more parents are aware of it, it will start some important conversations at home and in school.”
Upon watching the video, all I could think was “Nooooooooo. No. No. No. No.” Seeing the way people have responded to UN-solicited requests about how attractive/unattractive they think the subject of a video is, I dreaded the horrible things people would volunteer about these young women who straight-up requested it.
I just wanted to reach through the screens and plead with these young ladies, “Don’t read the comments! PLEASE! Don’t do it, it won’t do you any good. This is the worst platform for this kind of question and you will feel terrible no matter what the outcome.”
Why does it matter so much to know if the populous thinks you are “pretty” or “ugly?” It’s not like there is an actual answer and people just aren’t telling you. It’s all relative. To some you are pretty, to others you are not. Some days, we look better because we got our eye makeup just right or we got our hair to do that thing that we wanted it to do. Some days, we’re tired and stressed and look like crap. Plus, there’s that thing where people become more/less attractive to you based on how much you like them as a person.
Most importantly, though, it doesn’t matter what the answer is.
Because you are more than just “pretty” or “ugly.”
Of course people want to be attractive. I get that! I live and work in Hollywood for cryin’ out loud! Looks are currency in this town. But let me tell you something, looks mean very little when it comes to your value as a person. It is better to be a person who is
True to their word
than it is to be someone who is just “pretty.”
And what if the answer that people give you is “ugly?” You will feel bad about yourself even though you, at your core, have not changed. It will make you question your value as a person even if you are the sweetest, most wonderful young woman in the world. So what I suggest to you is this: any time you find yourself wondering if you are “pretty,” substitute it with each word on this list. Go through every single one. Add more even! Think of all the things you want in a best friend and ask yourself “Am I those things?” Because people are drawn to those who are nice and fun and good listeners. Your friends are not your friends because they think you’re good-looking. Your friends are your friends because of all the things that make up who you are. People are drawn to those they like, that they think are interesting.
What if the answer that people give you is “pretty?” You may feel good about yourself, even though you, at your core, have not changed. You should still perform the exercise mentioned above, because mean, nasty people who are “pretty” don’t magically become great people. They are still mean and nasty.
I know that adolescence is the time when you are learning who you are and working on becoming the person you want to be. Everybody feels awkward and insecure at this time in life (at all times in life, really, but especially at this time), so it’s unrealistic for me to say “don’t worry about” like it’s a super easy thing to do. None of us can help worrying, but it’s important to know that it doesn’t get you anywhere. If something is outside your sphere of influence, you can worry all day long, but it won’t accomplish anything. Instead focus on the things within your sphere of influence and try hard to make those things better, the best they can be, even and make sure to show a little self-love. It’s amazing how effective that positive reinforcement can be.
These are the aspects about yourself that you should be concentrating on. Looks are only skin deep and they won’t make up for having a terrible personality. But in the mean time, chin up. You are all wonderful young women with the capacity to do great things. Concentrate on that and you will love yourself all the more for it.