Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Community News Network

November 7, 2013

Asking the Internet 'Am I ugly?'

LOS ANGELES — Last month, the Internet collectively frowned over a depressing new genre of viral video: Teen-age girls taking to YouTube to ask anonymous strangers, "Am I Pretty or Ugly?" The good/bad news is that this plugged-in permutation of adolescent insecurity isn't just a girl thing.

Boys air their body issues elsewhere online - like on the Reddit forum "Am I Ugly?," where users submit their ages, photos and feelings about their looks, then invite strangers to answer the central question. This week, a 16-year old boy posted a bathroom selfie and said, "be honest even if it's not nice." Five other users weighed in. "Not ugly, but not particularly hot either," one wrote. "A good personality will always be the deciding factor, but more so than usual with you." Wrote another, "Looking tired or unhealthy isn't very attractive. Try working on your habits, or see if there's some face lotion that works well to make your skin a little bit more radiant." Said a third, "You need longer hair."

The short-haired boy with the sparkling personality isn't self-flagellating alone. The mental health resource site PsychGuides.com recently analyzed 1,000 postings on the subreddit and found that 79 percent of posters asking for feedback on their appearance are men. Their average age is 19. On a similar subreddit, "Am I Sexy?," men file 62 percent of submissions. And the responses to their posts are gendered, too.

In the 14 hours since one girl posted a suite of images of herself dating back to 2009 under the title "I know I've changed since then but i'm still insecure," she's received 45 replies. Some are pointed at allaying her insecurities: "Be more confident, you're cute." Others are pointed in another direction: "You lost the weight but kept the boobs. That's a good result." She's received come-ons from insecure guys ("If I knew you, I'd be spending the weekend moping after you reject my approach") and perhaps overly secure ones ("Would deffo smash"). Other posters urge her to rate herself against other women: "You should relax, you've made it into the hot girl club." The consensus is "not ugly," but the subtext is less encouraging - a crew of strangers calling out her parts, guiding her to assess her body based on how men see it, and establishing an expectation to compete with other women to keep boys looking.

Meanwhile, the general feedback on one 16-year-old boy's plea for help today ("somedays I feel like I look OK but other days I feel so very ugly") is "you look fine and a little stoned" and "you look hella baked." The takeaway is that if you're a boy, strangers on the Internet don't care all that much if you look ugly or not, even when you ask. (This is probably why women who post on "Am I Ugly?" receive an average of 54 replies, while men receive an average of 14. Of the 100 threads with the least user replies analyzed by PsychGuides, 99 were started by men.) That ostensibly frees boys from the constant physical surveillance that teen girls encounter online and off. But it doesn't address the problem these boys are really trying to articulate when they load up their selfies and ask others to take a look - they feel ugly, an issue that many of them say stems from the fact that few people seem to look at them at all. Public self-esteem campaigns, targeted largely at girls, don't seem to notice boys much, either.

Scrolling through "Am I Ugly?," PsychGuides says, sends the message that body image insecurity is a universal concern. But it expresses itself differently among girls and boys - and it's time we stop overlooking that.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll