Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

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
  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about food prices. Are you paying more than you were last year for certain food items? According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, "the cost of 16 food items" increased by 3.5 over 2013, as reported by the Des Moines Register. So, the question of the week is, "Are you feeling the food price increase pinch?"

A. Yes, and it hurts.
B. No, I don't feel a thing.
C. Not sure.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook