A Sincere Letter to All the ‘AM I PRETTY’ YouTube Girls

Dear Koala Hat Girl,

Your YouTube video, “AM I PRETTY OR UGLY,” has amassed over 5 million views, made national media outlets shake its collective head (only to immediately move on to the latest news about Kim Kardashian), spawned a tsunami of copycat videos from other impressionable young girls and also has what you were at least on the surface, looking to get from the very beginning – over 120 thousand comments from anonymous YouTube model scouts weighing in with their professional opinions. Well-thought-out and well-written opinions like, “Ur face is long and weird,but pretty,” and “y wod u make this vid ur so ugly BTW youtube is not ur thing go to google or something BTW UR UGLY AS HELL.” Those are verbatim, in case you letter eavesdroppers are in disbelief.

But don’t let those thoughts interfere with the moment we’re about to have. Pay attention now, and let Sifu Alan teach you a thing or two.

Whether you are truly beautiful or truly ugly, I cannot tell you. I can only tell you what my opinion is. Unfortunately, my opinion, like the opinions of all people, are as capricious as the wind. Today, you may be beautiful; tomorrow, you may be ugly. One day, however, you will learn that your beauty is not something to be decided through subjective analyses. It is something to be discovered, something to be understood and known. At the end of day, you will find that the people who love you the most, the people who should be most important to you, are the ones for whom your beauty is not up for debate. It is there for them plain as day, inherent to you and inseparable from you, today and tomorrow and all the days after. Let opinions which cannot be useful in your life roll off your back like beads of water to evaporate into the atmosphere.

Here’s a lesson on our world: We operate in a white male-engineered heteronormative society, where the biggest fish tend to be white heterosexual males. Generally speaking, they have structured it, and they continue to reign over it since they are the very ones who have made the rules, and also had head starts. Some of us navigate the fish bowl game well, and some do not. Some of us know we swim in those waters, and some of us are completely oblivious to the fact that we swim in anything at all.

You, Koala Hat Girl, have undoubtedly felt the hegemonic influence of white heterosexual male power, and thusly, you know that perhaps your most important and critiqued aspect as a female, are your looks. Whether someone has explicitly told you that or not does not matter – the programming is most everywhere in at least an implicit manner: women’s first compliments and first insults are about looks. Media abounds with advertisements and pictorials that pressure women to wear makeup, be thin and wear fashionable clothes.

You, as a young woman in high school, feel extreme pressure to be “pretty.” Sifu Alan says, “Fuck all that.” Focus the energy you dedicate to obsessing over the most superficial part of yourself and divert it into your studies, your trade or your art. If you do that, you won’t have to worry about looking pretty for anyone but yourself when you’re an adult. You’ll be doing what you love, you’ll be doing it well, and you’ll be all the more beautiful for it. If you can’t do any of that, then at least please stop living your life online and just go read one of those horrible teen books or something, preferably outside.



Sifu Alan

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