#YouLookDisgusting: More Than Skin Deep

We are drip-fed stories on a daily basis about trolling. Every day there is some story or another relating to some hateful and anonymous piece of shit doing their – usually ‘his’, let’s be honest – best to hurt, damage and upset targets that change as regularly as the wind. People tend to sit and ruminate on whether or not the meaning and definition of ‘trolling’ has changed once mainstream media got their hands on it. And sure, for plenty of people online, trolling is another way of saying “they disagree with me!”. But that’s their lookout, so leave the whiners to get on with it.

#YouLookDisgusting – a video posted yesterday by Emma Ford of the My Pale Skin blog – is beyond ‘trolling’ and slides very quickly into the realm of malice, hatred and useless, unwarranted negative energy that already holds such a prominent place in most of our lives.

Emma suffers from acne – a condition that can shred a person’s self-confidence to pieces in seconds – and during her time as a blogger, has received countless messages all over the world from others with the same problem asking for advice, support and praising her for said advice.

And so as an experiment, Emma decided to post images of herself sans make-up on social media and collected the comments made about her appearance for the video you see below.

“I wanted to create a film that showed how social media can set unrealistic expectations on both women and men,” writes Emma on the video descriptor. “One challenge many face today, is that as a society, we’re so used to seeing false images of perfection, and comparing ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards that It can be hard to remember the most important thing – You ARE beautiful.

“You are beautiful – no matter how flawed you feel, no matter how upset you may about the way you look or how hard you find it to make friends, or be confident. Believe in yourself, and never let anyone tell you’re not beautiful – not even yourself.”

Remember that old phrase you’d say as a kid? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”? Yeah well, it’s total nonsense and we all know that. Language has an almost infinite capacity to soothe and heal, but it’s just as deadly when used against you. Some of the comments left on the images are an insight into just how nasty people can be when they have the shield of relative anonymity backing them up:

“I can’t even look at her.”
“Her face is so ugly.”
“Seriously, has she ever washed her face?”

The flip-side to all of this comes when Emma applies make up to cover her acne. Do the cruel comments stop? Take a wild guess.

“You wear too much make-up.”
“This is false advertising.”
“This should be illegal.”

#YouLookDisgusting is powerful and affecting for plenty of reasons. It shows the shifting standards of beauty women are expected to conform to, but it’s Catch-22 as to some people, there is no ‘right’ answer. It shows the depths to which some people will sink to purge their own ill-will and bad feelings on other people. It shows how divided humanity is on the most basic of levels.

But it also shows the boundaries of perseverance. How easy it could be for Emma to retreat, hide away and wallow in the miserable and hateful words of others. Instead she puts herself out there not for her own benefit but for others’. It takes the bigger person not to name-and-shame those who made such comments, but let’s hope that at least one such person watches the video and changes their ways.

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