By Sari Zeidler, CNN
(CNN) – Am I ugly?
It’s a question teens have been asking their reflections in bathroom mirrors for decades. But with the prevalence of web cams and the increasing Internet know-how of today’s youth, the already complicated inner-world of teenage angst and self-doubt has taken a not-so-pretty turn outwards.
Videos asking that painful question have cropped up all over YouTube.
Adolescents, possibly as young as 11, are taking to the web and asking the world to weigh in on their appearance. From supportive messages to the plain pervy, the responses run the gamut. Comments provoked by these videos offer an interesting cross-section of the American psyche–and it's all painfully punctuated by images of America’s youth searching for approval.
In a video titled “Am I ugly or pretty? Please Let me know!” one young YouTube user says: “Hey guys, this is my first video…but before I post any more videos making a fool of myself, and I know there’s hundreds of videos like this…I just wanna know, am I pretty or ugly? Cuz at school I get called ugly all the time.”
Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist specializing in treating teens and author of the blog, Talking Teenage, and the best-selling “Teenage as a Second Language: Teaching Parents To Become Bilingual,” says the trend is a symptom of an “unwritten social rule among women.”
“We’re taught to be demure and self effacing,” says Greenberg. “It’s socially inappropriate for a woman to say they feel good about their body.”
Add to that the contagious nature of teenage trends, the feeling of anonymity that accompanies people’s online behavior and the “parenting fail” of insufficient supervision, and Greenberg says you have a “recipe for disaster” for teenage girls.
“They’re very young, very naïve and very unaware of the fact they’re prompting a stream of vicious attacks,” Greenberg says of “Am I Ugly” posters adding this raises the risk for eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder and lowered self esteem.
Comedienne, blogger and self-proclaimed voice of “vigilante feminism,” Margaret Cho has been outspoken about overcoming her own body issues.
In a post on her website, she told teens to take the videos down: "You don’t need people to tell you how beautiful you are on there. You don’t need to put yourself in the position to be judged that way. You are better than that and you deserve the very best in life."
“I’m trying to reach out to young people through blogging, through my standup comedy and let them know that they’re perfect the way they are,” Cho recently told CNN. “I don’t want them to wait ‘til they’re mid-40s to realize it, because you waste your whole life thinking that there’s something wrong with you.”
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Imagine you are born with a disfigured face and you were shunned from society. Do not any of you understand how cruel and hurtful the term "ugly" is? Besides, media's definition isn't spot on. My great aunt was 5 feet 12 inches, 105 pounds with fair skin, dark, beautiful curly locks and amazing green eyes. My mother inherited my great aunt's face but her mother's height so she is 5 feet two inches with a very small frame. Nevertheless, my mother is a very beautiful woman and I am not being biased. I see models on posters every day and my mother's face shares the same angular, chiseled features as their own. I am not sure about my own looks but people say I am going to turn out to look exactly like my mom when I am in my late teens. Anyway, the point is that looks don't really matter and most of it is genetic, not something we earn.
Wow!! The level of English used in these comments causes me to get sick to my stomach...
wow. hateful much?
Going on youtube and asking a question like that? You're asking for it. You're asking for ridicule. The internet, especially youtube, is not going to coddle these people. They would even call a very pretty person ugly if they can detect even the smallest bit of doubt. Because, and in most cases, only because it'll be funny.
Beauty and attractiveness will always be debated you just have to know who you are what you stand for. If you love yourself you will make others see and love YOU .I know that is such an old line but hey, it's true.
The internet is by far the worse place to ask those kind of questions. The internet is known to cause harm just for kicks. Leave those questions to be asked by classmates, you won't have some 19 year old trying to hurt your feelings or anger you just so they can have fun. I never got that anyways though... why cause anger for fun, doesn't make sense to me.
Wow, look at all these comments. Respect is the key to beauty because without it, how will you learn to like a person when you're just looking for something to hate? Haters will always hate, you just got to deal with it.
"If they don't see your beauty inside and out, I promise you someone will."
With Love, Steph (; P.s You're beautiful.
I am an 17 year old girl and yes, i can admit i am not satisfied with my body or look. I get up to school and i have to put makeup on before i leave or else it just makes me feel unhappy. But, then i thought about it and said, If you're beautiful in the inside, the outside will also show how beautiful you truely are. You are beautiful, no matter what people say because they don't know the real you before they start judging. Now, i go to school without make up happy and realizing that yur beautiful inside and out. Love, Steph (;
WANT TO KNOW IF YOU ARE UGLY ?? WANT AN HONEST OPINION ? IF YES I'M THE PERSON THAT WILL NOT LIE TO YOU. ...
Define "ugly" and we'll talk.
Margaret your a beautiful woman but sadly your as funny as Christmas at an orphanage.
Saw Margaret Cho exiting a taxi and dashing up the stairs at KRON on Van Ness a couple of days after the '89 quake. Absolutely beautiful legs...
Ah, a 1989 Margaret Cho sighting. Thanks for that timely anecdote!
Does Margaret Cho really think she's going to reach America's teens through her website and her stand-up act? Maybe if she created an "Am I attractive" video that teens would see among all the others on YouTube, she'd reach them, but I can pretty much guarantee that 17 year old girls aren't visiting Cho's website with any great frequency.
I think im ugly please follow my story at breakuphotel.wordpress.com share your story and pass along please
🔴 It's a very BAD idea to ask the public if your ugly. Why?
1. Most people will say your ugly , just be be evil.
2. Most people ARE ugly and that's why beauty is so prized.
3. There is a small benefit to being ugly, at least you know people like you for your personality or inner beauty, unlike Beautiful or Rich people who are plagued by cling-ons.
lovin #3! yessss
Nobody is "ugly". Beauty comes from within. You would do well to realize that, and grow UP.
YOU ARE NOT BEING HONEST.
Re: #3: Or plagued by Klingons.
You've summed it up nicely. Although we're all beautiful, not everyone is "conventionally attractive" which is what is generally meant by the term beauty. When a term of attractiveness encompasses the masses, average, not beautiful applies.
That's common sense. Asking that will only result in trolls berating the girl.
Margaret Cho is smart, funny and cute...Cho for President!
She's gay, she's disqualified
You are one of a kind of God's creation, there never ever will be like one you or ever was,..just like each snowflake God creates.
That's true. Who is that taught you to hate yourself from your head to your toes?
God?? Who's that
Margaret Cho needs to post a youtube video asking "Am I Funny". I would love to see the responses!!
The concept of beauty fascinates me....All babies – including Alligators- have a cuteness...it is for survival..We are programmed to react positively to "cuteness" As we grow up, youth continues to have "charm" This is why unintelligent youth is given so much credit... again...programming probably having to do with reproduction. People with shallow bends are quite happy to just live within this programming. but once you take a step back and realize that you are just reacting to brian chemistry, you can start having connections with something other than animal instinct.
I'm sorry. did you say something? I didn't think so
actually, I did.
A clear example of such.
Yeah Marcus, I didn't think Tracy said anything either. Glad you agree
Margaret Cho is beautiful!
Margret Cho is an insecure pig. Just look how badly she overreacted to the harmless Miley Cyrus gag. She definitely has security issues
She didn't overreact.
YES, YOU ARE....
Being pretty is both a mental and physical condition.
Even skin tone
Wearing your clothes properly
Being mature and confident But that does not mean all the time.
Able to share weakness with your friends .
Most women want me and my body until they saw i drive a honda element
Makeup. The problem is that people compare themselves to TV personalities whose job is just that, put a show. If you've seen the big stars w/o makeup you will know what I mean. Of course there are naturally beautiful people. Guys are as beautiful as their pockets are.
Beauty is a feeling. Nothing more, nothing less. It is most often affected by expression.
Wake up ALL Women and Know this: BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER!! (Scream intentional) It's who you are as a person that makes you Beautiful.. This is a by product of corporations numbing our children's senses of self in order to make a profit! This is the true crime here...
Beauty is in the pockets of the beholded too.
Agreed ! Beauty hurts.
There are tons and tons of haters on youtube that seem to enjoy hurting others...so yea, that is THE worse place to ask this question. They can be extremely vile and nasty in their comments. :( Its horrible to see. Its a mentality I don't understand at all. Its just sickening. :(
Agreed. People will say mean things because there is no accountability at all. Don't do it. Even movie stars and models get blasted and they aren't even asking.
It's called self loathing. It's not very difficult to figure out
The point is that these kids are too naive to realize that most of the replies and judgments that will be posted will be from either Internet trolls who hide out anonymously to shock and degrade or various strangers who opinions ultimately mean nothing in the life of these teenagers seeking approval.
Oh how wonderful it would be if we could make teens understand that 99% of the superficial bull that they are concerned with will mean absolutely nothing in years to come.
Wow, somebody cares what Margaret Cho says? Any one see the MTV show she did? How about the episode where she has an abortion and laughs and makes jokes the whole way through it? I bet you could find it if you looked for it on youtube. Watch it first and then see if you want to listen to one word or opinion she has.
You are the problem.
Margaret Cho frequently shocks me beyond what I thought was possible at my age.
And I keep going back for more because she is so intelligent, her perspective so unique, her courage so huge.
Sorry your brain is too small to accommodate someone that different from you or me. Sad for you.
I care what Margarete Cho says.
Cho is a gay immoral freak
And Kirk Cameron is a creepy washed up actor
i like margaret cho. my gf likes margaret cho. alot of people like her. and hell, even you care what she says. otherwise why would you respond?
It's been my experience that people will tell you you're fat, ugly, short (like we can help that!) and or stupid just to hurt you–even people who in theory are supposed to love you–like your parents, etc. I think the judgment of the viewer will depend on the viewer's mood at the time so it's very risky to put yourself out there and ask whether your're ugly or pretty–and I guess boys are included so it would be ugly or handsome. I'm short, fat, freckled and redheaded so I've been called just about everything but pretty by people who weren't very good looking themselves.
All teenagers go through that awkward stage and are self conscious about their looks, some lucky teens have extraordinary good looks due to the right genetic combination. Everyone must strive for that comfortable space by focusing on what you like about yourself and not forcusing on what you don't. Granted looks do open doors for some people,but you still have to perform. All of us will change as we grow older and some of those people will loose their looks than what. You have to focus on whats out there and how you can become a better person inside. Yes we live in a shallow society, that is how they make money by making us buy their products so we can feel good about ourselves which is self defeating
So true. The funny thing is that the most beautiful people are the most insecure and with low self-esteem. The wonder why people love them, because how beautiful are in the exterior or how they are inside. It could be a curse.
What is beautiful and what is ugly anyway?
When I was 14, a senior boy told me that I had "the biggest hands he had ever seen on a girl." Forty-six years later, I still remember it every time I buy a pair of gloves. Silly, but what does that say for our self-esteem at that age?
And the other answer is that unfortunately whether someone ever finds you attractive will never really bring you satisfaction or happiness in life. Learn to love yourself and have a positive self-image, and what other people think can only make you happier, but not happy.
Become beautiful by doing nice things for others and yourself. The lovely smile will gradually take over your face and somebody really special will fall in love with you.
The entire concept of associating beauty with feminine gender is the worst thing that mankind has ever lived on. If you are a woman, should you be beautiful? So if you are not a beautiful, then aren't you a woman ? We human beings should seriously work on our minds to get flush this idea out. I blame the entire fashion industry and media in current times which has corrupted our minds to the maximum possible extent. Let us make our woman feel good by just raising our voices against whoever associates beauty with woman. Let us accept woman as they are. After all, it is just a question of acceptance.
The things that make a person ugly are what they say and what they do,not thier apperance.
My whole life experience is that beautiful people are stuck up about it and, frankly, quite mean to everyone they think isn't as good as they are. The practical result for me is that now any time I see a "beautiful" person it results in feelings of disgust. Probably quite the opposite of what they assume I'm thinking. Their beauty is now ugly to me because of so many years of exposure to this true nature of their personalities. When a "hot" girl is nice to me in day-to-day interactions it is a shocking experience. As I've learned, ugly is a better word to describe people who are full of themselves than it is to describe the outside of a person who isn't.
So you're pre-judging people based on their looks? Sounds like you're doing the exactly same thing you find disgusting in beautiful people who look down their noses at uglies.
This makes you wonder what their home life is like. Do parents have any idea their child is posting this? Do the parents interact frequently with their child? Do the parents know their friends, the family of their friends? Are these children involved, via the support of the parents, in sports and/or other after school clubs/groups?
For every horrible idea to post on the Internet, there is least 1 troll which will make it worse.
I suspect Ms. Cho wouldn't like the answer if she ended up asking on the internet. As for the kids asking online–who cares? They're asking for someone's honest opinion and they'll more than likely get it online than if they asked someone face to face. Besides, if they're actually ugly, chances are they've heard the insult numerous times already growing up.
People get so overly dramatic about this stuff, it's silly. Some people are ugly some aren't, get over it.
Wow, you should be thankful that God made you a supermodel, Mike.
Perhaps education in Internet/social media literacy should include a primer on the difference between "real" friends and "virtual" friends.
The youtube video “Am I ugly or pretty? Please Let me know!" isn't up anymore. I feel sad that I won't be able to judge for myself.
I agree with her. those videos are a HORRIBLE idea.
When my daughter was a teen I monitored everything she did on the internet and blocked inappropriate activities. I never allowed her to view herself as a product to be judged by this ugly society. Shame on the parents that allow their daughters to engage in this obscene activity!!! Maybe the Amish have it right.
Ms Cho, you have it exactly right. People will tear others down to make themselves somehow feel better about themselves. It's always been done, but with the internet it makes it too easy to tear others down because there is no real threat of recrimination
Ms. Cho is the same comedian who some years ago made fun of Asian men by joking that they all have small peni$e$. And now she is trying to tell people that they are all perfect the way they are. Lol. She must have had a great revelation.
Iis any one taking the activia challenge.
Yes, my own mother told my aunt once at a party, looking at me across the way, why would any man want to marry her, she's so fat. My aunt told me this and it's never left me, although I truly wish it had.
I am so sorry this happened to you. People tell me that I am pretty all the time but I do not believe them. It really has to come from within. As much as men or women will hit on me, I just want the "one" to love me. I wish you peace
Did you truly believe that you were not? If you sincerely believe that you are not...then leave it alone, lead your own existence & be at peace. if you see yourself as fat then go do something about it. Use that comment as fuel to motivate yourself. "Ask & you shall receive. Seek & you shall find." Peace be with you.
And people wonder why there are school shootings.
You misspelled Colombia.
Talk about off topic
My wife is 6'3" and I think she's absolutely beautiful. She has struggled with body image issues though, and one thing that helped her was to think of the aspects to her appearance that she liked rather than the aspects she didn't like. No one's perfect, and even the most beautiful people in the world are critical of their appearance. It's all about perspective!
Love others, and love yourself.
this is the first reply Ive ever posted on these pages, but thought this too important not to answer.
youre 16. you cant judge a work of art before its finished, an entire house before its built, a flower before its bloomed and you will change so much in the next 10 years that you really shouldnt judge yourself until the project is finished. Im...uh, lets say, sure as heck not 16 anymore. after that 10 years (or even 5....2 years even), you'll look back at your self image now and not even recognize yourself.
please....hang tough. your height and weight will sort it self out and balance one against the other and one day you'll see. your height and lean build will be the envy of others around you. (trust me on this. Im 5'9" and 200lbs and would kill to be that tall and lean)
seriously. dont give in to the hype. youve got some great days ahead of you.
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