'Am I Pretty?:' A Troubling Question among Christian Women Like Me
"Do I look pregnant, or do I look fat?"
I hate to say it, but this question has become an almost daily occurrence in my household. Ever since I entered that dreaded in-between phase of pregnancy when your belly is halfway between a bump and a gut, I have been enormously insecure. I can just feel those skinny moms at the gym judging me.
Until recently, I have never struggled much with body confidence. But as the numbers on the scale have gone up, my esteem has fallen down. Now, I constantly appeal to my husband for a fleeting boost of affirmation.
The funny thing about the question, "Do I look fat?" is that I am aware, in the middle of asking it, how unattractive it is. There is nothing sexier than a woman who loves herself, and there is nothing unsexier than a woman clawing for compliments. What's more, as a wife and soon-to-be mom, I would like to think that I've matured in this department, that I shed these superficial trappings years ago. But my insecurities are not unlike those of the average teen girl today, and this commonality is evidenced by the latest (though certainly not new) trend among young teens: the "Am I Ugly?" videos.
The videos, which have popped up all over YouTube in recent weeks, typically feature young teens or "tweens" who face the camera and pose the simple question, "Am I ugly or am I pretty?" Some of these videos have garnered millions of pageviews with a range of responses. Comments fall anywhere on the spectrum between care and concern to disgusting words of hatred.
What makes the videos especially heartbreaking is the young age of the girls who post them. After all, these girls are just that—girls. As I watched some of these videos, I wanted to reach through the screen and hug their tiny shoulders. Each child seems far too young to worry about their physical attractiveness, let alone subject herself to such a critical atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the girls' age is the only thing truly new about this trend. Women have long used the Internet to assess their own beauty publicly. For instance, on websites such as HotorNot.com, individuals can post photos and receive feedback about their appearance.
The trend—at least the question of beauty—is not unknown to Christians either. In 2004, Christian singer Bethany Dillon released her hit song "Beautiful" in which she vocalized her deep yearning to "be worthy of love, and beautiful." In her bestselling book Captivating, Stasi Eldredge (wife of John Eldredge) argues that the "essence of a woman" is her beauty, and encourages women continually to "ask Jesus to show you your beauty."
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