This weekend I mentioned the YouTube phenomenon of girls asking "Am I pretty?" Below are some clippings from an ABC News story about this. You can read the whole article here.
Naomi Gibson, who lives just outside Denver, always makes a point to tell her 13-year-old daughter, Faye, that she's beautiful. So when she started getting calls from media asking to interview Faye about a video she had posted, she couldn't believe her ears."I was floored," Gibson said.The video was called "Am I Pretty or Ugly?" and asked anyone who watched the YouTube video to comment on her attractiveness.Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, says that teens have always had a fervent desire to be accepted."This is just an extreme version of something that's very normal," Klapow said, adding, "Another piece that's normal is impulsivity. Give them a medium that is so easily accessible and so potent, you get the problem we're seeing."Gibson had already instituted rules to try and protect her daughter, requiring Faye to tell her when she posted a video so she could screen it. Initially, Faye had been using YouTube to showcase her singing and dancing talents as a way to detract from the bullying that she has been a victim of since she was 11. Now, Gibson says that the privilege may soon be revoked."I took away her Facebook and Twitter account because of bullying. She needs to stop putting herself out there. Now people are walking around asking her if she's pretty to her face. It's hurting her more in the long run, I think," Gibson said.For Faye, the pain of not being accepted is inescapable."I feel like I could just go away and never come back…I feel like I've been standing all these years and keep getting torn down," Faye said.Gibson is hoping that Faye's and her experience can help alert parents before their children's insecurities spiral into something dangerous."Hopefully it will open up the eyes of the parents," she said. "The kids aren't letting their parents know what's wrong, just like Faye didn't let me know. Hopefully, parents can get more proactive. [Faye's] internet usage is limited even more, I have the computer locked after a certain time. I've taken all the steps that I needed to take, here's another step I need to adjust and move on from."
I think the saddest part of this story is that the mom still doesn't "get it" at the end. Her daughter didn't need to have her computer time limited (although that was probably appropriate). What her daughter needed was to feel "accepted". The reason she is turning to on-line strangers is because she doesn't feel accepted.
Please understand the importance of accepting your children for who they are. They will not be you, and they will not be the person you always wished you had become. They are who God made them to be. They have their own gifts and talents and skills. Allow them discover and develop those talents. Assure them that they don't need to be beautiful or popular or athletic to be successful, but instead they only need to be using the gifts God has given them. Affirm them in that pursuit...all the time...over and over...
Don't let them turn to strangers for the one thing they desire to receive from you!