Pressures on YouTube

Last week I was scrolling through Tumblr when I saw reference to YouTuber and Viner Nash Grier’s video, ‘What Guys Look For In Girls’ and realised that despite all of the discussion surrounding it a few months ago, I still hadn’t seen it. The video that I watched was an upload by a different person as Nash had (unsurprisingly) removed it from his own channel.

Watching the video I soon saw why so many people had caused a fuss. The video featuring 16 year old Nash and his 2 friends, provides an in depth and extensive list of things that each of them looks for in a girl; things such as talent and good style. For almost 10 minutes they added non-negotiable after non-negotiable to what seemed like a never ending list of ‘perfect girlfriend criteria’.

Aside from being a tearfully long video, their perfect girl was almost entirely unachievable. A strange comment 7 minutes in did provide a small amount of humour when Nash thoughtfully said, ‘every girl is trying to be like 1 image, be yourself’- a little rich coming from the person who had just handed over the blueprints for his perfect girlfriend.

No longer do teenagers have to take a magazine quiz to find out which YouTuber they are most suited for because now they can hear it directly from the boys themselves. I understand that these sorts of videos are a bit of fun but there are many teenagers that will see these comments as a checklist, as a breakdown of what it takes to be attractive. We hear a lot about pressures in the media, by magazines, adverts and music but I think that the bigger pressures come from those we trust.

YouTube is fantastic and I admire those who are making successful careers from creating videos and engaging a fan-base but I also think that it generates an unusual and potentially harmful relationship between the creator and the viewer. At the moment there are lots of YouTubers making videos about ‘YouTube Culture’ and about how they often feel pressured and overwhelmed by fans or the expectations that people have of them. Looking at it from the viewers’ perspective, I can see pressures here too.

Many viewers, particularly younger viewers, take much of what their idols say as truth and act upon any requests made because they trust and love the people that they watch. When Nash Grier posted this video, the teenagers went wild. Finally the heartthrob that they had been religiously following had told them exactly what kind of girl he wants to go out with, and had given them a list of things to work on.

Although many of the teenager’s requests were trivial, he did make a request that resulted in heavy backlash. 3 times during the video, Nash told his teenage viewers to shave as well as asking them to wax and ‘take the hair off’ when referring to arm hair and peach-fuzz.

Body hair is a source of embarrassment for lots of teenage girls and so for the viewer to be told that they’re unattractive and unsightly by 3 teenage boys is humiliating and demoralising. These vewers were being made to feel that they’re not good enough based on one aspect of their appearance.

Of course, it’s not just Grier making harmful comments unknowingly and I don’t think for one moment think that he’s a rampaging misogynist. However I do think that after such controversy people are starting to think twice about the messages that Nash and other YouTubers project onto their vulnerable audiences.

Like so much that young people are exposed to, this is a situation that many parents will be completely oblivious towards and so won’t think to speak to their children about the unrealistic and unnecessary expectations that teenagers feel pressured by. Going forwards at least, maybe if both creators and viewers were a little more thoughtful about the opinions that they share on the internet pressures could be lifted for everyone.

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