500,000 girls in You Tube asking: “Am I pretty or ugly?”


Today I became painfully aware of a disturbing phenomenon in You Tube: 500,000 videos of young girls asking the same question over and over: “Am I pretty or ugly?”.

At the beginning I thought they were just a few isolated cases and that it would be interesting to include them in a separate playlist for our You Tube channel, but then my playlist started to grow and grow until the number of URL links associated with this search started to become overwhelming.

So I decided to investigate further: how many of these videos are actually there? 100, 200, 1000, 10,000? Apparently much more than that: 500,000 (and still growing by the day).

These videos are not pranks or acting: they are made genuinely by young girls who are simply insicure about their look, seeking strangers’ approval, whatever that might be.

The scary thing is of course that:

  • the phenomenon touches mostly only girls (so far I found just a few exceptions)
  • many of these girls are incredibly young
  • their videos are not monitored or removed from You Tube despite their young age
  • these videos provide an irresistibile tentation for the millions of trollers and cyberbullies out there, just waiting to unleash their hateful comments.

Indeed if you scroll down through the long list of comments for each one of these videos you will invariably find many spiteful ones and I wonder how much damage has to be done before some action is finaly taken.

British performance artist Louise Orwin is trying to raise awareness of this growing phenomenon by starting her own “Pretty Ugly project”, a three-part experiment involving her own (fake) “I am Pretty of Ugly” (POU) clips, a live performance in London, and a call for feminist dialogue and debate.

I am including below the link for other three videos discussing this alarming trend:




You can also have a look at the relevant MSG’s playlist if you want to watch a selection of these POU’s clips in one place – but I warn you: it does make for a pretty depressing watch… 🙁

16 thoughts on “500,000 girls in You Tube asking: “Am I pretty or ugly?”

  1. This is very disturbing information, Francesca. Thank you for all of the work you are doing to raise awareness.

  2. I find this really troubling. When I was a kid (in the 1980s), girls were aware of the opinions of boys and other girls in terms of how we dressed, looked, etc. But at least we weren’t also subjected to the opinions of strangers on the internet.

    I hope that Louise Orwin’s project, your blog, and other means of bringing awareness to this phenomenon will encourage parents, teachers, and other people in girls’ lives to talk with girls about the the importance of maintaining their privacy rather than turning to the internet for validation.

    Let’s also have more conversations with the girls in our lives about meaningful things they can be doing and people they can be connecting with in their daily lives instead of hanging out on YouTube.

  3. Anna Lin & Julie, thank you for your support. Yes it’s disturbing material but I remain optimistic and really believe a change of attitude is possible: it is up to us collectively to create a different culture and transmit more positive messages to children & youth. There is so much interest building up, so much concern regarding these issues… the more we talk about it – spreading awareness – the more the movement will grow and thrive. I am sure this is the right time for change! 🙂

  4. My daughter was recently involved in an incident similar to this I’m trying to figure how to go about handling this issue (the representation of women in media) for the long term. I’m so glad I found your blog.

    • Hi Andrea, I am glad you find it useful. I suggest you to have a look at the playlist in our You Tube video, there are some useful resource and documentary which you could watch with your daughter to enhance her critical skills towards the images/ messages around her 😉

  5. I personally think that this is a bad thing. Does it stem from poor parenting or society in general? We need to teach our daughters that they are brave, beautiful and strong women and that the thoughts of others are just that, someone else’s thoughts!

  6. I agree with Anna these findings are disturbing but saddly, it is happening right now, everyday and all over the world, young boys and girls are so confused on how they suppose to look like,listening or looking up to… media, magazines and internet are not helping at all, these young kids are so exposed to everything that’s not good for them and peer pressure, it’s just heart breaking to see this happening, we need to emphasizing on self love, being appreciative and self acceptance and social media and internet is a good tool if used in a good way.

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  8. In my community there are girls who grow up not caring about the way they look. They are exceptional but you can spot them from a distance because they are far more happy and active in other areas (sports, artistically, academically or helping the community around them). Often it’s the way they have been brought up by their family and they are busy girls, generally less exposed to media, watching less TV and so on. My daughters for example (9 and 15 years old) are both unconcerned about their look. There is clearly a huge media influence which make girls very obsessed about their look and parents who do not spend enough time with their children is another problem! It’s so sad to see this, it should be a wake up call for many parents I hope, but I am not that optimistic…

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  10. This is absolutely disheartening and I am concerned. I can not imagine how a parent must feel when they stumble upon an uploaded video of their child soliciting advice on their beauty from strangers online. And I wonder how these young girls and women must feel when they receive responses from individuals of all age groups who do not have their vested interest in mind. For the reasons of anonymity you never know the true identity of the individual who is connecting with you. As much as I am concerned for negative comments I am equally concerned for positive ones. Unsavory individuals can see vulnerability and begin the grooming process with relative ease. No one is monitoring the internet and parents should be aware and alert of the content their children are disclosing to strangers, but we all know this is not happening in many cases so there is practically a huge section of girls remaining unprotected and vulnerable to abuse!

  11. Oh, my God! It is really bad. And, it is beyond social media. Guess what, people? Thousands of young males do this, too! From time to time, I answer questions on Yahoo Answers. And, you will be surprised about how many young males ask and want to be rated if they are between a 1-10 in looks! To me, this thing about beauty starts in the household.
    From infancy I have let my child know how gorgeous she is. And, she really is a beauty. There is one important thing: Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Even though I have a niece who looks like a hyena, I do not crush her feelings by calling her ugly, no matter how many barrettes my sister puts into her hair, or the beautiful clothes she puts on her. I don’t say a word.
    She is blessed to be a healthy and intelligent child. Every human being needs to realize that they are unique.

  12. WTF??? I find this so shocking. These girls are practically children and they are placing their worth as humans based on their physical appearance – not just that – based on someone else’s opinion of their physical appearance. This objectification makes me physically sad. Thanks for sharing really think that this needs to be publicised!!!

    • This is almost my exact reaction as well. When I read that the girls were “incredibly young” I couldn’t imagine them being THIS young! These are indeed children, having their minds poisoned by the “perfect” people shown in the media and actually asking about their appearance (which reflects their own substance as human beings) people who haven’t even met.
      This is really sad but thank God we are already fighting against it with projects like “Pretty Ugly”!

  13. I have been reading through the various posts on here and find this to be one of the most troubling ones. My first thought was that there is (or was) actually a website dedicated to this very thing. I believe it was called “Hot or Not,” and its entire premise was to allow users, mostly children, to upload pictures of themselves to be rated.

    As a society, we have definitely taken a wrong turn somewhere. While I grew up in a family (in the 80’s and 90’s with no internet) where appearances mattered (far too much), I don’t think that I would have ever had the gumption to broadcast my insecurity to the world to be rated and ridiculed. It’s a very odd and very disturbing phenomenon.

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