When the most recent Dove self-esteem video became viral on the internet, I was quick to repost and praise this video that brought me to tears because of its message. Less than a day later I received the link to an article criticizing the commercial on many points that had not even previously crossed my mind. For example, many of the compliments given in the video included having “nice, thin face” and light eyes, whereas negative comments included having crows feet, a rounder face, and scars. As the article suggested, while Dove’s intentions may have been good, this video ultimately reinforced the stereotype of “beautiful” meaning thin, light skinned, and young. The article then went on to emphasize that what you look like should not define your own happiness, and that we are all so much more than just beautiful.
While I completely agree with the article’s criticism of Dove’s video, I disagree with its assertion that looks don’t and shouldn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that looks do matter, but not necessarily in the way we would normally think: in my opinion, the way that you feel about your appearance is a lot more important than whether or not you fit the conventional standards of beauty. I recently found a quote from Emma Stone that I think sums this idea up really well:
“Confidence is the only key. I know a lot of people who aren’t traditionally ‘beautiful’ — not symmetrical or perfect-bodied or perfect-skinned. But none of that matters because all that shines through is their confidence, humor and comfort with themselves. I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself”
“Beauty” is not defined by a certain look, but by an attitude. Think of some of the most beautiful people in your own lives: are they confident even with their imperfections, or do they match up to society’s traditional standards? Speaking from my own experience, the people I admire the most for their beauty are the people who love themselves and their perceived “flaws”. For example, my grandma Moran has very defined laugh lines on each side of her mouth – something that many women spend years trying to hide with botox and special creams. Instead of being embarrassed or ashamed to have so many wrinkles, my grandma once told me that she absolutely loves them because it shows how much she has gotten to laugh and smile in her life. Now whenever I feel self-conscious about my own laugh lines that already seem to be starting to form, I remind myself that they show the whole world how lucky and happy I have been in my life, and it makes me proud to show them off.
I still love the Dove commercial because it serves as a reminder that we are oftentimes our own harshest critics, and that so much of our beauty is defined by our own self-perceptions. I also like the tumblr article as well because it helped me open my eyes and realize that even Dove, a company famous for its work to improve self-esteem, still creates a very narrow definition of beauty that needs to be challenged and questioned. Instead of focusing on loving our thin chins and hating our crows feet, let’s work towards loving every part of our body because it makes up who we are, gives us stories to tell, and makes each of us beautiful in our own ways.
So now when someone asks what you love most about your body, what are you going to tell them?