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The "Pretty Or Ugly" Trend Won't End

Teenage girls are looking for love in all the wrong places

There is a dark corner of Internet where teenage girls are searching for validation from the worst place imaginable -- YouTube commenters. It's called the "pretty or ugly" phenomenon, and it works like this: Girls post videos of themselves asking viewers to tell them whether or not they're pretty or ugly, and then wait for the comments to descend. And boy do they ever.

The range of comments can basically be divided into three categories: horribly cruel comments suggesting that the girls are too ugly to live; sexually suggestive comments (presumably from sexual predator types); and critical comments offering the girls "advice" on how to look "better."

The trend reminds us of the early 2000s website Hot or Not, where both men and women would post pictures of themselves online asking users to vote on whether they were "hot" or "not," but ratcheted up to an extreme level. And almost exclusively amongst an underage girl population.

And that's, perhaps, the most disturbing thing about this whole thing. The trend seemingly proliferates largely among young women who are searching for validation and support, but who are continually berated, abused, and harassed online.

Louise Orwin, who's researched the "pretty or ugly" phenomenon, thinks the phenomenon's reach has to do with our anyone-can-be-famous culture. "It's all tied up to reality TV culture, which perpetuates the idea that anyone can become a star. [For these girls], maybe YouTube is about that; this idea that if you present an idealized version of yourself on the internet, it might attract attention one day."

In the meantime, it seems to be destroying self-esteem, one girl at a time. [Buzzfeed]


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