You are More Beautiful Than You Believe
I love Dove for trying to make the world a more beautiful, more authentic place. Dove has been working its “Real Beauty” campaign, and this time it has shown us all just how hard we are on our own physical appearance. We tell our daughters and friends how beautiful they are but we are not so kind to ourselves.
Dove recently released a short film, Real Beauty Sketches. They did a social experiment in which they had seven women describe themselves to Gil Zamora, an FBI-trained forensic artist. A curtain separated Gil from the women. He sketched them from their description of themselves. Then he had a complete stranger who only spent a few minutes with the woman describe her appearance by asking a series of questions. The results were stunning and have proven what most of us have known all of our lives: we are our own worst critics. We have distorted perceptions of what we look like and it’s usually far from what we actually look like.
It is amazing to see the dramatic differences in the two photos of the same woman. Sketches based on the women’s description of themselves have wrinkles, bushy eyebrows, dark circles, frizzy hair, and distorted features. The sketches based on the stranger’s description are more flattering and actually even more accurate to what the women really look like in person.
When do we start seeing ourselves only for our flaws; real and imagined? I’ve always known that we – women – critique ourselves harder than anyone else looking at us. This is true of most women. Then there are others of us, like me, who have been diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder and we cannot even trust what we see in the mirror. My doctors exact words? “Debi, you can never trust what you see in the mirror because you are not seeing the person we are seeing.”
My self-image is so distorted that I no longer have the ability to decipher what I look like to myself or to others. I am my own worst critic, by far.
I don’t know exactly when this happened. I think it must have happened sometime around puberty. Somewhere amidst all of the body changing we lose our balance and some of us never fully recover from the awkwardness, at least not on the inside. I want to prevent my daughters from focusing on their flaws and instead focus on their strengths in life.
As girls, we form an image of what beautiful is. I think it is a manifestation of all the images of beauty that we are surrounded by as adolescents; Barbie dolls, television shows, movie stars, musicians, and models. They embody fame and fortune and they all fit a manipulated mold of beauty, one that most of us don’t fit into.
I hope that by these women seeing how beautiful others see them, they will be able to see it in themselves and I hope that I can help my own daughters to always see the beauty in themselves, on the inside and the out.
How do you encourage a positive self-image in your daughters?