Tween and Teenagers
Am I Ugly? (Don’t Answer That!)
Ugly. I've never been called "ugly." Bitchy, annoying, selfish, nerdy, crazy... yes. But, ugly. No. Never. At least not to my face. I can't imagine how that might hurt though... I can remember being around 12 years old and being called "Jenny Craig." I assumed that meant I was fat. After all, she was the face of a new radical weight loss system.... and I was the face of a girl who hadn't gotten my period yet and would have to wait another 20 years to lose "baby fat" (and I'm not talking the postpartum kind). Then, of course, because I decided I haaaaaad to become an actress and move to New York to do "theeeeeeeater," my whole world became about how I looked (and how much I weighed). I was turned down for many parts because of my looks and weight... and I went on to assume that it was my looks and weight that kept me from meeting the man of my dreams...
Then, of course, I grew up. And realized that those things alone, if at all, weren't keeping me from life and love. But sadly, when you're 12 or 13 years old, you have no idea about the notion of self-love and self-acceptance. You're defined by what your peers tell you and, thanks to today's media, by who the judges move to the next round in worldwide watched singing (beauty/style) contests.
These days young girls (and boys) are inunundated with "it's all about how you look and how you work it" messaging. From TV to the social media sensations and trends, it's hard for young people to escape judgment based on their looks. Unfortunately, many tweens are exploiting themselves, inviting criticism (and even praise) on sites like YouTube. Recently, a slew of young girls have posted videos, asking viewers to straight up tell them if they're ugly.
WHY???? Why are these girls setting themselves up for not only horrible commentary and feedback, but also superficial and artificial praise? These people are perfect strangers… Creeps, actually. (Speaking of which, parents of these tweens, ever hear of parental control? What happened to monitoring what your kids are doing and whom they're talking to???) This whole thing is freaking me out. And making me sad.
Like Margaret Cho in her beautifully written letter, I want to hug these girls and tell them it's okay (because clearly no one at home is doing this). I want to tell their friends to f*** off for making them feel crappy (because clearly that's why they feel the need to find reassurance from the most unreliable sources). I want to let them know they are not ugly and will never be ugly and the person they see in the mirror is the only thing or opinion that matters. I want them to stop FISHING. Stop begging. Stop searching. I want them to go play dress up, watch romantic movies with their friends, and have slumber parties. I want them to just be girls.
Be who you are… There's never anything ugly about that.