If You Want Your Daughter To Love Herself, Don’t Ask The Internet To Comment On Her Appearance

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teen-body-imageWhat do you do when your teenager thinks she’s ugly? We want our kids to be happy and healthy and be confident, well-adjusted people, but the world makes that really tough sometimes. There’s no playbook for how to instill confidence in a 13-year-old girl who thinks she is ugly, but if there were, it would probably not include putting her photo on the Internet for approval.

One Reddit user says she recently watched a childhood friend post a photo of her 13-year-old daughter on social media and asked people to comment about how pretty the girl is, ostensibly to help instill confidence. The original poster thought that would do more harm than good, and I am inclined to agree. She wrote:

“I think it’s important to give her beliefs and feelings value over everyone else’s. Does she find parts of herself attractive? Does she think she’s a good person? What does she want for herself down the road? What can she, herself, do to make herself feel better about who she is? If she gets more value from what other people think, she could look to others more than to herself for her own happiness and value, and that can be a very dangerous road.”

I realize this is particularly thorny territory with teens. There is a lot of pressure on girls to look a certain way and be appealing to other people, and that can do terrible things to an adolescent psyche. But the approval of people on the Internet does not seem like a good remedy. The Internet is not a nice place, and if you ever want to break your heart, read the comments on YouTube videos of teenage girls asking if they’re ugly. (Spoiler: The comments are terrible.)

Even if she does get the sought-after accolades from a bunch of random Internet people, that just reaffirms the poisonous idea that physical beauty is of paramount importance, and assessments of one’s physical beauty are best determined by the opinions of strangers. Beauty is nice, but it isn’t everything and it doesn’t last. If one’s self-esteem is tied up in the approval of strangers, what happens when all the voices saying you’re hot suddenly disappear?

There are a lot of places a teen can look for validation, but self-actualization through getting strangers on the Internet to tell her she’s hot is not a path I would want to go down, and I wouldn’t want it for my kid either.

Photo: Shutterstock