On Friday: Beautiful.

beautyA couple of days I posted a video that is part of the new Dove campaign. If you didn’t watch it on my blog, I’m sure you’ll have seen it somewhere else as it has been splashed across many a social networking site over the last week.

If you haven’t watched, and don’t really want to, allow me to summarise:

Dove hired a forensic artist to sit on one side of a curtain and draw a woman who was sitting on the other side of the curtain. First, he would draw the woman as she described herself, and then he would draw her as described by a stranger she had just met. The two drawings were displayed beside one another and the women were asked to come and see themselves: as seen by them and by others.

Now, despite the worthy ideals propagated by the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, we must keep in mind that they are a cosmetic company who are using these aforementioned worthy ideals (not to mention a fairly schmaltzy soundtrack) to persuade us to spend our hard-earned cash on their products. But, despite that caveat, there are still a few things that moved me in the video, as well as a few things that I disagreed with.

The major thing to disagree with, I suppose, was the way that beauty was described: thin, young, pretty,  fewer wrinkles, fewer freckles, fewer ‘flaws’.

But there was one great thing too and that was the common thread that appeared in each pair of pictures that they featured in the film. In each of the drawings that were described by the stranger, the picture made the woman look much happier, and also just looked more like her. They were all much more her. 

Beauty is a funny old thing really, and I don’t have any easy relationship with it. We all know, I suppose that we should care about the predictable, culture-determined ideas of beauty; the shiny hair and white teeth, perfect skin and no body fat. And yet, those shallow, skin-deep things are all that we see. It’s all very well saying ‘beauty is about what’s on the inside’, but we don’t see what’s on the inside every morning when we look in the mirror.

But I do know that it is more than that. It’s got to be. Beauty is truthful, and real, and more than just braided hair and gold jewellery.

So, I’ve decided to keep thinking about it. And to make Beautiful my word.

Last year my lovely friend Fiona introduced me to this idea of choosing one word for the year (read more about it here). Last year her word was Brave, and this year she’s chosen Joy. Now, really one’s supposed to pick a word for one calendar year, but, since we’re already 1/3 of the way through 2013, I’ve decided to have this word for the next year of my life (my last days as a twenty-something).

Let’s see how we go, eh?

In summary: beauty.

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  • Reply fiona lynne April 22, 2013 at 5:47 am

    I had similar reactions to this video. It made me tear up so there was definitely something true and beautiful about it, but the fact that it was still trying to sell something… well, you just have to be careful that you’re not getting sucked in without realising to a marketing ploy.
    And I think it’s exactly what you said – the women thought they were more beautiful in the second picture and they identified the lack of wrinkles, etc. Which is fine in itself, but that’s not beauty and I’m not really sure that’s what the other women were seeing – they talked instead about nice smiles, happy eyes.
    I think somehow our inner beauty does shine through, most especially in our smiles and our engagement (our eyes). And it’s hard to describe that physically so we say someone had a nice smile, and they then focus on the fact you didn’t notice their wrinkles. But it’s SO much more than that.
    One women said she thought she looked more “open” in the stranger’s picture and I think that is closer to the truth. When we look in the mirror, we’re so often looking critically, so we see ourselves as closed – I’m frowning at myself, squinting to check the imperfections I know are there. But with others, we open up, we engage and enjoy each other. And it does make a physical difference, even beyond our interpretation of it.
    Well you know I love this issue (um, 10,000 word dissertation anyone?) but I’ll stop nattering now. I think it’s a great word to choose. There’s so much in it to explore! Can’t wait to hear more what you learn through it…

    • Reply ellidhcook April 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks Fi, I knew you’d have lots of thoughts!x

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