By Risa Cove, age 15
A recent trend has come to my attention on TikTok, in which boys comment on girls’ posts with a “rating” or “grade” of sorts. It works like this: the first number rates the top half of the girls’ body, the second number rates their bottom half, and the letter grade rates their face (ex: 37C-).
After scrolling down my “For You” page, I came across a video of @lex_holland responding to the comment “28B+” that she’d received on the latest video she’d posted of herself. Of course, as a 15-year-old girl who served for two years on the MEDIAGIRLS Youth Advisory Board, my first thought was how outrageously offensive and horrifying this is.
I decided to look at what the boys in the comments had to say for themselves. “Whoever gave you that rating was very generous with the letter,” “I mean, it’s not meant to attack you, it’s just a better way [of rating] compared to one out of ten.” “That just lowered you to a 17B,” and “It’s not for you, it’s for the boys” (what?!). Many women who tried to reply with comments empowering/standing up for us received low ratings as the responses from guys.
From what I can tell, many boys genuinely can’t see this trend as having a negative effect, which is even more problematic than the ratings themselves. Four out of five girls have low self-esteem (Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, 2016), and getting rated from boys is certainly not helping. This disgusting action also pits girls against each other, and even encourages competition between girls to see who can get the “better” body. Girls often feel compelled to spend the majority of their time, money, and hope trying to “fix” themselves in order to gain acceptance.
What do we do?
How do we get boys and men to realize how harmful and degrading their actions can be? One guy defended rating girls by saying: “It’s not a trend, it’s a lifestyle.” (Again…what?!) So guys are saying objectifying women is a lifestyle now? We cannot normalize grading the worth of girls and women based on external parts of their bodies. These comments are ruining girls’ lives and guys just don’t understand the impact their opinions have, and how much they contribute to the lowering of our self-worth.
If you are on TikTok and see an upsetting comment from a guy, I encourage you to stand up for the girl–and all girls collectively. One explanatory or questioning response from you could shift his perception. Some examples of things you could say include: “How would you feel if somebody said/did this to your mom/sister?” “Do you know how many girls are going to see your comment? Are you SURE this is what you want to be putting out into the world?!”, or “I hope you’ll think about how incredibly offensive what you said is!”
Putting out a comment like this takes some courage! Trust me, I know. I spent the entire afternoon scrolling through the comment section of this particular TikTok and responding to every questionable comment I could find! Another step you can take to empower/reassure girls is to “like” and respond to the brave comments they have posted. Speaking on behalf of the billions of women around the world will leave you knowing you made an impact. I felt satisfied and powerful knowing that I contributed. When you’re reading the responses of support that other girls have posted, you will feel so grateful that they had built up the courage to say what they said, and you know all of the girls who see what you have to say will feel the same.