Over the past couple days, the Dove video, Real Beauty Sketches, has been shared many times over on my social media feeds. I'd like to start by saying that on one level, I get it. We are our own harshest critics. We need to be gentler on ourselves. I also think that the concept is interesting. I like the idea of exploring how we see ourselves vs. how others see us. But, for me, there is more to the story here.
These are conventionally attractive people. And that's okay! It's okay to be conventionally attractive! (And let me say, this is a critique of the video and the concept, not of the participants.) But this video is meant to be a commentary on the way our society perceives beauty. The problem is, Dove doesn't challenge that perception at all. Every participant fits neatly into society's narrow definition. The observers used the descriptions "thin face", "small chin", "short, cute nose", and "nice blue eyes". These were the highlighted 'positive' observations made by the observers about the participants. Does that sound like Barbie, or is it just me? Also, are the drawings on the left so bad? There are people who look like that. What about them?
I also have to wonder why the way strangers describe our physical appearance should be so important, anyway? Perhaps we don't need strangers to tell us we're beautiful. Maybe we should be telling our daughters (and ourselves) that it doesn't really doesn't matter that much what these strangers think of our physical appearance. That we have so much more to offer.
Another thing I noticed about the participants is that they all seemed kind of quiet. Some even seemed sad. (The music doesn't help.) I'm sure that this was intentionally done to keep the mood consistent and from a marketing point of view, I get it. But as a woman and mother, it makes me uncomfortable. I find it hard to believe that every single woman described themselves in such a negative light. Unfortunately, I think they are (again) perpetuating a conventional feminine ideal. That of being quiet and modest. Society frowns on a pretty girl who knows it.
To those of you who were moved by this video, my motivation in posting this isn't to make you feel bad or make your feelings illegitimate. If it spoke to you, and it helped you, I am glad. My only thought is that maybe we should think twice about whether this video might be adding to the problem, rather than mitigating it. Maybe we should be reminding ourselves that our worth as a woman has very little to do with the shape of our nose and much more to do with the strength of our character and the generosity of our heart.