” I run to the comments and lo and behold, “You have super nice features, but the hair doesn’t suit you.” hardly brutally honest but ok. “You are already beautiful, you can use different hairstyles with your hair 인계동 풀싸롱.
” Enlightening stuff, but hardly helpful. “I don’t see anything that needs changing, you’re already stunning..” and my personal favorite “Smile, that will help immensely…” The icing on the cake for me was rule number 3, comments like You’re already beautiful, nothing to change” will be removed but that’s all of the comments on the post.
Now about the young woman herself, she posted on a subreddit specifically dedicated to self-improvement because her lived experiences don’t line up with the comforting lies anonymous internet strangers keep telling her.
There were a lot of things she could have worked on from dark circles, contour deformities to a general oiliness of the skin, porosity, nasolabial lines, asymmetric hairline, and scleral show. It may seem like I’m nitpicking, but that’s what brutally honest is and the results that I can only assume she is after by posting on this subreddit require these small but consistent changes because beauty is work as any beautiful person can tell you.
Poor skin indicators do negatively impact both yourself and others’ perceptions, and that is well documented, not something I say for the sake of being mean. These comforting comments on a subreddit dedicated solely to actual beauty advice are the problem I see everywhere.
I call this toxic positivity, and it helps absolutely no one. But don’t take my word for it, I wrote a program to analyze over 100,000 editors’ beauty advice using A. I and the trends we found reflect what we’ve all been thinking but to understand the data that I’m going to show you, you need to first understand what we’re doing.
Let’s consult where do you start? ider the average self-improvement journey: 1. If you want to improve your looks, you need advice and direction. This can come in the form of fitness channels which most people know, fashion and styling, skincare, or more intensive channels like Lori Hill who talks about cosmetic surgery, there are many ways to improve your looks, some will give you better results than others.
2. Should I focus on a skincare routine or jump straight to surgery and get orthodontic braces? For most people, they ask friends and family or head to subreddits like r/rateme, r/glowup, r/vindicta, r/truerateme, and the list goes on, there is a lot of demand for guidance and advice.
Users will post their pictures and get advice from anonymous individuals, and statistically, most people giving advice are just beauty hobbyists, Beauty isn’t their day job and so the advice these people give more or less comes back to the same 4 things everyone and their mother already knows, hair, clothes, skin and weight loss, sounds good but not really that helpful.
For instance, there was a post of a young man losing his hair very early and it was severely affecting his mental health. The Reddit users suggested wearing a cap and shaving his hair. I would have suggested he visit his doctor to ask about a prescription of finasteride, minoxidil, micro-needling, and ketoconazole but wearing a cap is a good solution to hair loss too I guess, just never take it off though 3.
Even without any data being involved, we can all agree there’s no ground-breaking advice being shared on these subreddits. But not all subreddits are the same, some are actively focused on theory, others on practical beauty advice but the majority exist to make you feel good about yourself, even when they claim to not be that.
4. In comes r/amiugly, a subreddit where you post a picture of yourself and ask users if you’re ugly, and unsurprisingly, if you do call someone ugly, there’s a high chance you’ll be banned. This is the beauty-advice subreddit I want to analyze because it’s relatively big but exists in this grey area of toxic positivity, giving the impression of helping but not really.
Looking through straight away, most comments are one of three things, “you’re not ugly” “you’re so pretty/handsome” or “2 lines of generic advice with no actionable steps.” Let me make things clear, I have no issue with people voluntarily going out of their way to give advice and help others, but is everyone as beautiful as the comments imply? Does everyone need a new hairstyle or skincare routine or a new set of clothes? Is this the solution to every poster’s problems? I wrote this script in Python, a programming language, in around 1 hour.
It goes through the r/amiugly subreddit’s top posts and puts into a list those with 50 to 200 comments for consistency. Some posts have 500+ comments but it’s 500 of the same comment fanboying over a conventionally attractive woman so that doesn’t help us much.
Once we get the comments for each of our selected posts, we end up with around 112,000 comments which is a lot of data. Clean it all up we can run some A.I. algorithms on it. When dealing with text data and languages we refer to a field called Natural Language Processing which is one of the big subfields of Artificial Intelligence.
I’ll keep it very simple, by turning individual words into numbers, a vector, it points out into a 2D, 3D, 4D, or 100 dimension space, and the similarity between two of these arrows can be measured to understand what is being said.
The first thing we can do is run a frequency distribution, which is asking, how many times certain words show up in my data set of 100,000 comments. Of interest the word ugly showed up 3rd most, but positive words like pretty, good, beautiful, and cute combined showed up more than any other.
Already, we’re getting the idea that the comments of this subreddit are more positive than negative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Statistically, even if only the most attractive people post, the distribution of words should be more diverse, not 5 different words in the top 20 for saying someone is good-looking.
Also, hair, smile, and eyes were often brought up, I would guess to compliment these features. To investigate why the word ugly shows up so often, it is r/amiugly but still, we use a technique called Concordance, where you consider the context of the word in how it shows up.
From randomly selecting 10 lines alone, the word ugly only shows up when people are saying you’re not ugly, that’s 10 for 10. Repeat with a 100 and from memory there were only 2 or less out of 100 randomly shuffled comments that used the word ugly in the negative sense.
Out of 112,000 comments, the phrase you’re not ugly or some variant of it shows up 27% of the time, the subreddit claims to not be a huge box but 27% for this exact phrase and more for variations of it sure feels like a feel-good sub rather than one that’s meant to help.
An N-Gram is a n-numbered collection of words used in a phrase. For example “you’re good-looking” is a tri-gram. Unsurprisingly, positive phrases like “you’re good-looking”, “look good” and “you’re really pretty” are the 18/20 most common phrases on the sub, like robots.
You’re ugly shows up as the 20th most common, which I found very funny because that’s such a blunt way of wording it. By now, we can appreciate that there’s a very strong chance that there’s some kind of toxic positivity hivemind at play here, of the close to 2000 posts scrapped, is everyone so good-looking here that 18/20 of the top phrases are in awe of their beauty.
Hmm, The last exercise I want to show you is called sentiment analysis. AI can be closely taught that some words equate to positive emotions and others equate to negative ones. ‘Love’ is a strongly positive emotion, ‘dislike’ is a weakly negative one, and so on.
What we find is that the sentiment of comments in this subreddit is overwhelmingly positive, to the point of being unusual. It’s like when every comment on Tiktok is telling an unconventional-looking person that they’re gorgeous, we all know something fishy is up because of the unusually high number.
Sorting out all of this data, first is that there are posts that are almost entirely made up of people artificially praising the poster’s looks, and at worst there are posts where around 2/10 comments are criticizing the poster’s looks, which is kind of the point of the sub I guess.
It’s not like the AI is guessing either, because a comment like “not ugly” is intelligently predicted as positive sentiment because we’re also considering the context of the words. Here’s something interesting though, when the user is less conventionally attractive the positive sentiment is incredibly high, things like “no girl you’re gorgeous.
” When the user is conventionally attractive, people are considerably more negative towards them, almost nitpicky. To me this is the crux of why toxic positivity is bad, it’s self-soothing, but not productive.
The attractive person doesn’t need all the ‘constructive criticism’ that people give them, the unattractive person doesn’t need to hear that they’re gorgeous 18/20 times only to live a completely different life when they log off.
If you want practical advice, I recommend joining a discord server like the QOVES community where the length and quality of the advice are undeniably better. I say this because on a platform like Discord, there is reciprocity, you interact with these people repeatedly so strangers become your online acquaintances and they have more incentive to give you the best advice possible as opposed to a random stranger on Reddit who says comforting lies to your face to make themselves feel like they’re doing charity work