Have you heard about the disturbing “Pretty or Ugly” trend happening online lately? Teenage girls will upload videos of themselves to YouTube and ask for feedback from commenters on their physical appearance – basically, are they pretty or are they ugly? A quick search for the term on YouTube yields roughly 2.6 million results – yes, that’s millions.
Most uploaders are high school aged girls seeking validation from an anonymous public, and yet many are most likely disappointed to find the exact opposite. It’s yet another disturbing sign that the pressure on young girls to be physically attractive has reached dangerous levels and that their reliance on public approval of their appearances has reached insane proportions.
That’s where Louise Orwin comes in. The 26-year-old London-based artist noticed the “Pretty or Ugly” scene and wanted to further explore its workings. What she found was disturbing. Creating three different alter egos, she posted videos of each asking for feedback on whether or not she was pretty. What she got was not only criticism on everything that was wrong with each version of herself, but even profanity and pleas for her to “kill [her]self”. Well, that’s lovely. Even more interestingly, when Louise posted a video as herself – a 26-year-old grown woman who is conventionally attractive – her video seemed little to no attention.
She told BuzzFeed of the videos of her alter egos:
“They were called Becky, Baby, and Amanda,. Becky was your standard rock chick, wearing heavy eye makeup and playing an emo soundtrack in the background. Baby was a Britney Spears wannabe. And Amanda was me, without makeyup, in a wig, wearing glasses.”
“As far as I could tell, the majority of the commenters were older men. And a lot of them sent me private messages asking for nude photographs.”
Terrifying, and really, really sad to think of the young girls who are part of this trend and the negative consequences that might befall them because of it.
Louise was so inspired by her findings that she used them as inspiration for a new art show entitled Pretty Ugly, running at Camden’s People’s Theatre in London until November 9. More information can be found here.
Featured image via BuzzFeed, as is the story.