Monday, April 28, 2014

Dove vs. Victoria's Secret: What is Real Beauty?

I know that there has been a lot of controversy for awhile over Dove and Victoria's Secret love your body campaigns. These two campaigns are in stark contrast even though they are trying to convey the same idea: to love your body. The problem? What exactly are you supposed to look like in order to love your body? According to Victoria's Secret, you should look something like this:

Photo courtesy of Victoria's Secret ad. 
In short, to love your body you should basically be a super model. Long limbs that are thin and toned, flowing and curved abs, and not an ounce of extra fat anywhere to be found on your body. Now, I'm not trying to put any of these models down because they are all drop-dead gorgeous but the truth is that the average woman does not look like this. For the women who are not in the fashion industry or not genetically endowed with a 5'10" frame, it's pretty impossible for all of us to look the way the models do in real life. Just because we can't look like those models doesn't mean we're not beautiful, though, and I don't think that's what Victoria's Secret is trying to say with this ad. The point of this post is not to analyze marketing ploys of this ad but rather to talk about how these images affect women and most importantly how it makes us feel about our bodies. I can't say for sure what was going on with this idea at Victoria's Secret because I wasn't there when this was developed but what I can say is that for me, as a woman, it missed the mark entirely.

Personally, I don't want to be shown images of stick-thin women that I will never be able to look like and then be told to love my body. Seeing an ad like this will never teach me to love my body as it is. That comes from changing my perspective and the way I feel about myself, not just being told to do it by an advertisement of women who all appear self-confident in their skin and possess perfect beauty, as determined by societal ideals today. Sorry Victoria's Secret, this isn't meant to be a nasty rant tearing this ad apart, but it's the perfect example of why so many girls, young women, adult women, or women of any age, have insecurities. It's because society gives us an unattainable image and then tells us that's what real beauty is, and if you don't look like that then society will not see you as beautiful. I still have a hard time when I see a picture of a model in a magazine to stop myself from comparing my flaws to her perfections. It's so unhealthy and makes me feel so bad about myself. But that kind of behavior and thinking needs to stop and I'm glad that people are stepping up to the plate and trying to change things. With that being said, I'm a fan of the Dove campaign and I'll tell you why with one simple reason: it gives me hope.

Photo courtesy of Dove Real Beauty Campaign
I know what critics have said about Dove's campaign but like I said this post isn't about marketing strategies and I'm not going to discuss that at all. It's about how these campaigns affect me as a woman, and when I found out about Dove's campaign and watched the videos, it gave me hope. Hope that maybe things were going in a more positive direction. Think about it this way: would you want to watch your daughter, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandma, best friend, any female loved one in your life criticize themselves the way you do it to yourself? You can't understand why they would do that to themselves because you can see just how beautiful they truly are so why can't we do that for ourselves? Because we are our own worst critics. I mean if I ended up the topic on Fashion Police, Joan Rivers couldn't say meaner things about my appearance than I've already said to myself. I can rip myself limb from limb and have nothing left but what does that do to help me? Absolutely nothing. Would you want to hear someone you love say the same awful things to themselves that you've said to yourself before? No, you wouldn't because it would break your heart to hear them say that and to know that's what they think about themselves.

The point is that we're able to see others' beauty but we can't always find it in ourselves. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to that but I love how Dove is trying to show women that it's not healthy and it needs to change. We can't keep on living like this as a society, tearing ourselves down and worse, thinking that tearing other people apart will make us feel better about ourselves. Remember Mean Girls, ladies? Calling someone else fat or ugly or stupid won't make us any prettier, thinner or smarter. All it does is make us mean and teach us to only look on the outside of people. We are all beautiful, inside and out, and we need to start feeling empowered by our beauty. For so long, I shoved away my issues and hid them in a dark corner of my life. I was afraid to face my insecurities and unable to cope with the bad feelings about myself and my body. I kept trying to lose weight and depriving myself because on some distorted level in my mind I thought some day I would be able to look like the girl in the magazine. Sounds crazy right? That's in the past, though, and the only way I could learn to be comfortable in my own skin was to love and accept my body. In order to do that, I had to face the reality that I would never be able to look like the women in the magazine. I'm 5'1" and have short legs so do you really think I could ever be a Victoria's Secret model? On top of that, I run 5 days a week so my legs are pretty muscular and will never be dainty or fragile-looking. It doesn't mean my legs aren't perfect the way they are, just different from someone else's. And that's the idea behind the idea of real beauty that Dove is trying to tell us-- that we all come in different heights, body type, bone structure, hair color, eye color, etc. That's what makes us all beautiful in our own way!

Think about it, we can't all look like the models or actresses. It's not genetically possible but most importantly, it wasn't planned that way. We were all created individually with our own purpose in life so we need to embrace the diversity of our beauty. Everyone is different but that's what makes us beautiful. There is no one else like us and we need to celebrate that fact. I think it's wonderful and amazing that no two people are alike. Real beauty is looking around at all the different faces and appreciating the fact that each one is a unique creation! So next time you're feeling down on yourself or picking out your flaws in your reflection, just remember that you're your own worst critic. Chances are someone else will see what you see but rather consider it a flaw, they'll see it as something that makes you beautiful just the way you are. Just to prove this point, Dove did an experiment where they had women describe themselves to a forensic artist so he could sketch them but then had to describe one of the other women they were asked to get to know beforehand. The results are very touching and moving. Watch the full video here to see just what happens. I also love Dove's Selfie project and Evolution video.

I think Dove's efforts are wonderful and it makes me hopeful about the future to see a large company going against the grain in order to help women. People can say what they want about Dove's true motives with this campaign or that they didn't do any better than Victoria's Secret but I believe that's just negative people having nothing nice to say. To me, this is a campaign for a good cause by showing women of all ages that beauty is attainable because it's already within us. We don't need society trying to tell us what is actually beautiful because we are all already beautiful, inside and out, but the problem is that we just have never seen it there before. Beauty is just being exactly as you are and that's why it's real. It's not a photoshopped picture in a magazine or the result of heavy amounts of make-up, it's being just the way you naturally are. That's why I love the Dove Real Beauty because it's honest and realistic. It encourages women to be proud of who they are, what they look like, and what they can do. Dove is trying to tell us that we don't have to fit this mold that society has made for women. We need to stop tearing apart our physical appearance and see ourselves as beautiful. I love Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty because it reminds me to be good to myself and to love my body as it is because it's all mine. I'll never have another body so I need to respect this one. I'm 100% real and I'm proud of that!

Photo courtesy of Pinterest
What do you guys think?

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