teenagers

The sad question young girls are asking on YouTube

Oct. 31, 2013 at 12:19 PM ET

Girls Ask YouTube: Am I Pretty or Ugly?
The Madame Vlog/Youtube /
Teen Girl -- Girls Ask YouTube: Am I Pretty or Ugly?

Call it our least favorite YouTube video trend ever: Tween and teen girls are setting themselves up for cyber-bullying by asking, "Am I pretty or ugly?"

Yep, the heartbreaking-but-true trend of “Am I Pretty or Ugly” YouTube videos, first reported on in 2011, is back in the news thanks to the premiere of a new performance project, Slate reports, with more than 450,000 now posted on the site.

Louise Orwin, a British performance artist, came up with “Pretty Ugly,” a show and blog inspired by the trend, according to Wired.

She likens the posts to a modern version of the personal diary, and tells the website, in researching the videos, she was struck by the language and the pretty or ugly question.

"I was horrified by it," Orwin tells Wired. "Then you look at the comments below; they were horrific."

“Horrific” barely covers it. Negative comments range from “99% ugly %1 pretty” to “You're extremely ugly, go kill yourself.” Then there are the sexual, racist and misogynistic comments, too.

On her blog, Orwin writes that as woman who has spent many years worrying about her looks, weight and image, she couldn’t imagine why a girl would willingly open herself up to cyber-bullying.

“Are these little girls so brave?” she writes. “Or is there something else going on underneath? Peering through fingers clasped over my eyes I wanted to know.”

And, so Owrin began interacting with the girls.

“In many of the interviews I found the girls answering that they knew they shouldn’t see looking good as an important part of their lives, but that it was almost necessary: ‘to get higher socially’, ‘to talk to boys’, ‘to feel good’,” she writes, adding that many of the girls "didn’t identify with the concept of feminism either."

As part of the project, Orwin asked girls to finish the sentence, “I am…” rather than “Am I…” in hopes of inspiring positivity among young girls.

Let’s hope that when these YouTube videos launch, they’ll start a new trend.

Lesley Kennedy writes for ShopAtHome.com's Online Shopping Report. Follow ShopAtHome on Twitter @shopathome and Lesley Google +.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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