What do you see when you stand in front of the mirror every morning?
Eunice is a pretty 35-year-old woman with a high-level marketing job, two children and an adoring husband. She’s the envy of many others around her – she’s smart, attractive, successful, a kind, cheerful soul…the whole package. She seems to have everything going for her.
But in secret, she often feels inadequate. Every morning and night, she sees the dark circles and fine lines multiplying in her undereye when she stares into the mirror. Her skin is somehow looking less radiant these days, and a tiny bulge (or in her words “a mountain”) is building up with age in her lower tummy despite the workouts. She’s just tired of looking tired all the time, and sick of her husband trying to reassure her that she looks “just fine” (when she’s “obviously looking frustratingly ghastly”, or rather, just short of being perfect). At the same time, she feels a tinge of guilt for fussing over herself and splurging money lightening her sunspots, rather than spending more time with the kids or investing the energy in her work.
Sounds familiar? It sure does, at least for me.
Dove’s new “Real Beauty Sketches” ad campaign provides proof that we women should stop beating ourselves up: ‘Cos we might be more beautiful than we think. Seven women of different ages and backgrounds had a FBI-trained forensic artist create composite sketches of them based on descriptions of themselves vs descriptions from someone else. And the results were astonishing.
We are constantly being bombarded with conflicting messages about “pretty” even from childhood: “Don’t waste time being pretty” vs “Work hard to be pretty”. “You’re not pretty enough to be desired and loved.” vs “You’re too pretty to be taken seriously at work”. They come from the media, our families and friends, and perhaps most importantly…ourselves – our biggest and merciless inner critic.
I’m happy and touched to see a campaign encouraging us to see ourselves, as we are at this very moment, in a beautiful light. It’s a refreshing departure from many ads attempting to shame women into buying yet another new whitening product for our armpits (problems we never knew existed previously).
Self-Reflection: “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty…[Our perception of ourselves] impacts the choices in the friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.” – Florence
Perhaps we should treat ourselves with more self-compassion. Don’t get me wrong: Self-compassion is not self-indulgence. Tempting as it may sound, if we let ourselves off the hook totally, ignore our responsibilities and eat chocolate and chips all day, we’re definitely going to cause ourselves problems. Problems that will most likely end us up with self-loathing and self-blame.
A kind, compassionate mother doesn’t let her kids get away with anything. She makes her children eat their broccoli, go to class, mind their manners and do their homework, precisely because she cares and sees beauty and strength in every one of them. I believe it’s the same with ourselves. You are worthy of the same kindness, care and appreciation you have for everyone else.
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Read More: The Beauty Bias – Does Beauty Matter in Politics?
– By Emily Wong
*This article has been selected Article of the Month for Apr 2013*