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The Dangerous Game Middle Schoolers Need To Stop

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The other day, my seventh-grade son showed me a text from a girl who is a friend. It said, “On a scale of 1-10, how cute am I?”

Luckily, my relationship with my oldest is pretty tight, and he often shares the little and big things going on in his life. He brought me his phone and said, “Read this, Mom. Seriously, what do I say?”

I said a quick, silent prayer of gratitude that his little heart understood that something about her question was a bit off and he was not prepared to answer it. I told him to say, “You are so much more than a number, so I don’t want to play that game.” He did, and her reply was something like, “Oh, OK.” Maybe a bit deep for seventh grade, but I promise she will thank me later.

This is a favorite in the middle school arena. The idea is to post your cutest possible selfie, then ask your “friends” to rate your hotness on a scale from 1-10. It can be found on Instagram, Snapchat and through text message.

Can we please encourage our children to stop playing this game? I can just imagine my awkward, middle-school self with curly bangs in a denim striped shirt buttoned to the top, taking a picture with amateur make-up, zits and braces, trying desperately to get a photo at the perfect angle so I might look prettier than I ever really was. I can then see myself, with unfounded confidence, posting that picture, only to see numbers roll in from people who are just as insecure as I am. Those are moments you don’t forget. What if I went through life thinking I was about a 6? Would I have lived my life like a 6?

Adding insult to injury is the fact that every middle-school girl has a “prettier” friend who of course pulls in 9s and 10s. Those superficial ratings become gospel — regardless of talents, abilities or intelligence, she is a 9 and you are a 6. The phone said so. Case closed.

If you have a daughter, check her posts, read her texts, talk to her about self-worth and real beauty. Tell her that this game has no place in her world. Discuss the power she can have when she refuses to let others dictate her value. Encourage her to remember her own divinity, to find something she is passionate about and have confidence in her own style, so she doesn’t erroneously think that being pretty and having worth go hand in hand. Remind her that basing how she feels about herself on what middle-school boys and girls think is positively crazy.

For example, most boys, upon viewing a post like that, will think one of three things:

  1. “Hmmm, I don’t know. She is better than average, average is a 5. I guess she is probably a 6.”
  2. “She is kind of a jerk and keeps ignoring me. I’m giving her a 4, doesn’t matter how pretty she is.”
  3. “Yeah, she looks hot. 10 for sure.”

Most boys that age really don’t THINK seriously about what they say online, and if they are OK equating a girl with a numerical value, they certainly aren’t the types of boys who are grounded or mature enough to be trusted with fragile self-esteem.If you have boys, please tell them to steer clear of games like these. Promise them that this is always a losing situation, regardless of circumstance or age. Remind them that girls are never objects to be rated. They are people, friends, daughters and sisters who will one day be colleagues, spouses and mothers. Both boys and girls deserve more.

 

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45 thoughts on “The Dangerous Game Middle Schoolers Need To Stop

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Brooke.. I’m going to talk to my grade 6 girl today about if this happening at her school.. I’m sure it is.
    She’s has already come home in tears from school this year..heartbreaking .

    1. Thanks CJ! It was a sweet moment for both of us as I was able to teach him about things that are close to my heart in a real world setting.

  2. Thanks so much for this insightful and well written post.
    I have been following the beauty redefined sisters posts for a couple of years. Girls and boys alike need to know that we are so much more than our faces or our bodies. We are unique individuals with talents and abilities that we alone can share to bring light into the world and Into to the lives of those around us. If boys can help the girls in their lives to realize that, they can change for the better the lives of the girls and women they interact with. You are a wise woman

    1. Thank you Geri! Wonderful insight. I agree, our boys have a responsibility to create a safer world for both genders. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Absolutely so true! It’s already a tough world out there for middle school aged kids (and high school kids too). I’ve had this conversation several times with my boys, but I appreciate the reminder that “constant reminders” are still not enough for kids. On the other hand, constant reminders for us parents are key to helping to control the issue….. we need to reach inside those phones on a constant basis and make sure they are clean and used how they should be used, not as a judging game!

    1. Agreed Alison. It is so difficult to stay on top of things with only one, so I can’t imagine with more. You are doing such a great job with all those boys. Inspiration!

  4. As a mom that will be facing those years soon I think what I got out of this was developing that tight relationship that your kids can come and talk to you about anything or whenever they have questions. I hope mine can. I guess we’ll see.
    Also, as someone who remembers you from Highschool, thanks for always treating everyone like a 10!

    1. Your comment honestly touched my heart, Liesel. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I agree, developing a close relationship is absolutely key. Hard, frustrating at time, but so important.

  5. It goes both ways and I hate it!!! My teenage son asks the tbh it’s another game they play and then the people responding have to supposedly say how they honestly feel abt the pic. My son is constantly bummed by what is said abt him and like you put it .. the reply no matter who it’s from is gospel ..case closed. Doesn’t matter how much I try and tell him it’s not really worth while to do it I’m the doesn’t understand how it is to be a teenager mom. I will keep trying…but it’s not only our girls suffering from these self esteem destroying games.

    1. I have heard this so much and it breaks my heart. We need to teach our boys that they are too good for this game too. The world can be so cruel and the teen years are harder than ever. Keep loving him and doing your best…it is hard but worth it. Best of luck!

  6. Thank you for this. I just was made aware of this 1-10 rating game in a Middle school small group at my church. We are in a discussion on relationship goals. One young lady brought it up and ended up in tears sharing that her friends were rated very poorly. Luckily there was girl peer support of another girl that just met her that was able to give some encouragement of how to handle it before I could.

    1. Thank you for your comment Hilary. It is a tough world out there and these teens need all the help and support they can get. Thank you for being that support!

  7. “Most boys that age really don’t THINK seriously about what they say online, and if they are okay equating a girl with a numerical value, they certainly aren’t the types of boys who are grounded or mature enough to be trusted.”

    Time out on that statement; I totally agree with this article, but I find the above statement a bit out of line. In the first part you are stating that most boys that age really don’t think seriously about what they say online, and I would say that most boys aren’t seriously thinking about the impact that this can have on young girls (this doesn’t necessarily make them the types of boys that aren’t grounded or mature enough to be trusted, it just means they are in middle school ;). I don’t believe that boys this age are necessarily “okay” with equating a girl with a numerical value and most, if not all, middle school boys are grounded nor mature.

    We have had these conversations in my household and thankfully my boys don’t view women in that light (but they are 18 and 21 and really would rather not bother with girls). My youngest girl is 13 and thank heavens isn’t very interested in social media because I know this is more prevalent than we would like to believe.

    In boys defense, normally it is the girl that starts this conversation…

    1. Hi Karen. Thank you for your comment and insight. I hope it didn’t sound like I was throwing boys under the bus; I would never want to do that. More than anything, they are just often not aware of the impact of what they say (though not ALL boys are the same, of course). I was hoping this article might start a meaningful conversation with both genders. Girls, I would say, almost always start this type of game, and the article was written as a warning to both boys and girls to refuse to play. The can both be better and do better. With 4 boys of my own, I know how amazing, kind and thoughtful they can be. Sounds like you did a great job with yours!

    1. The phone thing is for sure a struggle. We are back and forth on our decision on letting him have one and feel like we can change our opinion if it becomes too distracting of harmful. It definitely requires constant vigilance.

  8. Holy cow! I’m a freshman in college, and seriously, this is terrible! So glad this wasn’t a fad when I was in middle school (though I honestly hope I would be smart enough to not participate?) Good on your son for getting advice and not just playing along!

    1. Hi Jess. Seriously!! I thank my lucky starts that there was no social media when I was young. Being a teenager was hard enough!

  9. My question is why not talk to your son about his physical level too? Not just females have insecurities about their face or body. Although it’s seen more common in women it’s not just women. All people struggle with it. Also, in the case of why he asked, maybe he does not think she’s secually attractive and that’s why he didn’t know what to say. My nephew is gay and he’s told me he struggled with this as well because he did not find females attractive. Not saying that your child is gay but it could always be a possibility

    1. Hi Jane. Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree with you which is why I said, “Don’t hesitate to tell them what you tell your girls. Boys also need to understand that their worth is not tied to the opinions of their peers.” Many boys do struggle with this and it is VERY important that they understand the same thing we are telling the girls. It has been an interesting thing to remember so clearly how I felt as a middle school girl, but then to see this same world through the eyes of my son. Such a learning experience. I see your point about him not knowing what to say to the girl, but in our situation it was more about him not wanting to ruin a very good friendship. I appreciate your thoughts!

  10. Great article but I am concerned about the point to encourage her to remember her own “divinity”. Could you clarify what you meant by that?

    1. Hi EG. Thank you for your comment. My personal belief is that we are all children of God, which is why I reference divinity. I also understand that many may not feel this way, so please insert there whatever you personally believe is most important to share with your own child. I appreciate your careful reading of the article!

  11. I love hearing your thoughts and am glad you sent me to this article. As an involved parent of both boys & girls, this is wonderful advice. Keep it coming!!

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