A Disturbing New Instagram Trend and One Mom’s Attempt to Stop It


A recent Washington Post article has drawn attention to a new trend that is arising among young girls on Instagram; a trend that has both parents and child safety advocates worried. The trend is Instagram beauty pageants, in which young girls submit pictures of themselves using hashtags like #beautycontest or #rateme, and subject themselves to the praise and/or ridicule of their many million Instagram peers.

The trend is troubling for many reasons. For one, many of the girls are under the minimum age of 13 that Facebook requires to use the service. For another, privacy advocates warn that many “contestants” fail to properly keep their identities a secret (while others blatantly give it out through Twitter and Facebook links). And that’s not even mentioning the many parents who are horrified that their daughters are ascribing to such a skin-deep definition of beauty.


One such parent is Hollee Actman Becker, a writer and blogger from Philadelphia who posted the above photo to her Instagram account after discovering that her own daughter and several of her daughter’s friends had taken part in such a pageant last Saturday. Initially upset, she realized that, as she put it, they were “playing a game to which they had never been given the rules.” As she explains on her blog, suburbabble:

How could I blame them? … My own daughter waved the grids off as all in good fun until I actually explained to her what made them so offensive and vile. In the wake of events like what took place in Steubenville, it’s becoming more important than ever for us to empower our kids with the tools they need to decipher right from wrong — both online and IRL. And so instead of banishing the girls, I did this.

“This” being the photo you see above. Her plan seems to have worked, the pageants have received a lot of negative attention in the press while that photo sparked a “revolution” of sorts, where grids of “pageant” photos were being replaced by similarly uplifting alternatives.

Still, according to The Washington Post, plugging in the hashtag #beautycontest turns up almost 9,000 photos, while #rateme yielded over 27,000. It may take more than one mother’s viral photo to run this trend around.

Instagram beauty contests worry parents, child privacy advocates [The Washington Post]

Image credit: Photo illustration based on makeup. by Hanbyul❤. Instagram photo by Hollee Actman Becker.

  • Richard Ford

    Where did the last 20 seconds of my life go. Really PP?

  • Duke Shin

    Screw instagram.

  • Rob S

    Goodness at its worst its about 1% as brutal as Model Mayhem. Dont make the cut on MM and you just get a rate quote or worse, ignored. And I say this as someone who has had to tell girls who I am sure are very nice that no, I wont do TF with them but here are my rates.

  • Sean Simpson

    ever heard of ? they beat instagram to that punch 14 yrs ago.

  • get used to it

    to late its the world we live in every thing is done online by the younger generation

  • Ross

    Evidently, through the hole in your soul.

  • Richard Ford

    Evidently indeed.

  • ripley

    Riot Grrrls were doing this 20 years ago, and they got ridiculed for it (the term “girl power” was a watered down, mainstream catch phrase that was adopted by people such as the Spice Girls, which completely undermined the initial attempts of the Riot Grrrls to uplift and empower young women). And now we end up with a generation of girls who are vain and naive. And stupid. Really stupid.

  • Igor Ken

    Please, get used to punctuation.

  • Dave

    Typing this inane comment. Really Richard Ford?

  • Jake

    to late its the world we live in every thing is typed without punctuation or editing by the lazy generation

  • theperfectnose

    *turn this trend around. Not *run.

  • ennuipoet

    At least this king of nonsense is driving nails in the Instagram coffin. As more pre-teens take over, the Hipster set will leave and go be Hipster about some new phenomena, hopefully not photo related.

  • Richard Grebby

    ironically isnt this exactly how ‘the facebook’ started?

  • Guest

    Ironically isnt this just how ‘the facebook’ started?

  • Libby Stack

    Parents are bitching but they are the enablers here. Who buys the phones? There are still cheap phones available with no cameras in them and web access that simply pathetic. Buy those. Or they can just keep giving in to the internet brats and keep complaining. It’s their choice. It’s a very simple solution really.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    someone please tell that idiot how to use hashtags correctly.

  • Brixton

    Is it just me or are kids becoming more narcissistic at younger ages with every passing generation. Don’t hate on the app. This is a cultural thing and parents need to step in explain to their kids how stupid their behavior is.

  • Caitlyn Chapman

    ^ Yup I was gonna say! Though I don’t think you could locate people through hot or not.

  • Samuel

    You cant blame the internet for this, nor can you blame instagram. Just because someone has invented something doesn’t mean you have to use it for this. If you dont want your kid posting themselves on instagram you could either parent better and tell them not to or if that doesnt work perhaps don’t buy them a $500 phone.

  • Samuel

    In the kindest kindest way Model Mayhem has some “models” that are really, as unpleasant as it is to say, not attractive enough for modelling. I got a request for TFP from a woman who was about 45, which alone isn’t bad but she looked like the kind of person who would ask you for change on the street corner and if you said no offer to “make you happy” with her mouth.

    I suppose if you take the scouting modelling you open the door to anyone who is capable of using a web form

  • Samuel

    You don’t use hashtags at the end of posts to add more info or create a public hashtag others can use for the same cause ?? #I’veBeenDoingItAllWrong #HowCouldIBeSoStupid?

  • Jack

    Oh no. Someone’s spraytanned, overopinionated mom (whose account consits of blurry snapshops and selfies in the bathroom, because classy) will unfollow you. I am sure teenage girls will be devastated.

  • Robert

    I have to agree. Was forced to take away one of my kids tech for good over this mess. Welcome kiddo back to the stone age.

  • luke

    Sorry to let you in on this, but it isn’t instagram that is the cause of this. This is do to the fact that the importance of beauty has been drilled in to these girls head since they were old enough to understand. The importance of beauty is taught all around us from tv shows, commercials, magazines, and all over the internet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the parents were unknowingly teaching their kids by the way they react or comment the looks of others. As I do not agree with this trend, I do see why they do it and it is gonna take a lot more than this mom to reverse what these kids know to be true…in their eyes.

  • Meee

    Oh you could… I met quite a few blind dates in my area that way

  • Larissa

    The problem is not instagram, or facebook, or twitter, or whatever apps and sites, the problem is ALWAYS how people act/use them. You can choose to post naked photos of yourself like you can choose to post all your life’s info on these platforms. People just need to be better educated, with better values, instead of just being taught after the fact that it isn’t good for them.