Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Is Real Beauty?

The beauty debate is a hot topic. As a women there constantly images coming as us telling us how we should look, dress, how we should act and what we should weigh. In recent years there has been an ongoing beauty battle with Dove's Real Beauty Campaign and Victoria's Secret's I Love My Body. 

I've always been envious of the women in the Victoria's Secret ads. Their bodies are perfect, but are their bodies actually perfect or are they photoshopped to perfection? Don't get me wrong I'm sure those girls have worked hard to stay in shape, but who knows what extremes they have gone to to attain those bodies. 

The Dove Real Beauty Campaign I think is more relatable. I love that it features real women who are embracing their body- imperfections and all. All too often we focus on tearing ourselves down instead of embracing what makes us who we are. 

Recently I came across an article by blogger Samantha McClelland from Minor Numbers. It's a beautifully written article and Sam was gracious enough to let me share it with all of you. Be sure to check out her blog here!

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 andEvolution 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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