Recommended Reading: Why Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Video Makes Me Uncomfortable and Kind of Angry

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Because the message that we constantly receive is that girls are not valuable without beauty. 

Brave, strong, smart? Not enough. You have to be beautiful. And “beautiful” means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and tv show and commercial shows us that, right? It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless (go watch Miss Representation for more thoughts on this). And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. All it’s really saying is that you’re actually not quite as far off from the narrow definition as you might think that you are (if you look like the featured women, I guess). 

And actually, it almost seems to remind us how vital it is to know that we fit society’s standard of attractiveness . At the end of the experiment, one of the featured participants shares what I find to be the most disturbing quote in the video and what Dove seems to think is the moral of the story as she reflects upon what she’s learned, and how problematic it is that she hasn’t been acknowledging her physical beauty: It’s troubling,” she says as uplifting music swells in the background. “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty.  It impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we go out for, they way we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

Did you hear that, ladies? How beautiful you are affects everything—from your personal relationships to your career. It could not be more critical to your happiness! And while it could be argued that the woman was actually talking about how you feel about yourself or something, it is clearly edited to suggest that the “it” is beauty. I know we’ve been told it thousands upon thousands of times before, but I hope you heard that, girls: your physical, superficial beauty is the most significant part of who you are, and the most important determining factor in your life. And now I want you to hear this: that is a lie

What you look like should not affect the choices that you make. It should certainly not affect the friends you make—the friends that wouldn’t want to be in relationship with you if you did not meet a certain physical standard are not the friends that you want to have. Go out for jobs that you want, that you’re passionate about. Don’t let how good looking you feel like you are affect the way way that you treat your children. And certainly do not make how well you feel you align with the strict and narrow “standard” that the beauty industry and media push be critical to your happiness, because you will always be miserable. You will always feel like you fall short, because those standards are designed to keep you constantly pressured into buying things like make up and diet food and moisturizer to reach an unattainable goal. Don’t let your happiness be dependent on something so fickle and cruel and trivial. You should feel beautiful, and Dove was right about one thing: you are more beautiful than you know. But please, please hear me: you are so, so much more than beautiful. 

Read the full article on Little Drips.

All images found via Google Image Search 

1 Comment
  1. I’m sorry but ‘should’ and ‘does’ are not the same thing.

    Outer beauty should not affect our choices or friends or jobs, I agree, but the fact of the matte remains- it does.

    All those negatives vs. positives, were not things Dove said, but the perceptions of the people. I am not saying it is right or good but it is reality.

    We can work to change those perceptions and change the way physical beauty does affect our lives but we cannot deny the way things are – how else can we hope to foster change without admitting first the truth.

    We have to start someone and where better to start than by helping people see that they are more beautiful than they think. That doesn’t have to mean only physical beauty and I think that too is actually reflected in the Dove experiment especially in the woman who said she looked more open, friendlier and happier. Those aren’t physical traits, they are her inner beauty projected outwards towards the person she talked to.

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