Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dove... promoting self-love once again...

A friend of mine posted this ad last night.  If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch it.  It drives home a powerful point about how people, women especially, view themselves.  That being said, this ad also promotes the point that physical beauty still defines us.  This ad is about self-love and seeing yourself the way other people see you.  But notice that all the women in this ad are genuinely attractive and mostly appear to come from a similar walk of life.

Some people simply are not blessed with conventional good looks.  These are the people who might be candidates for a show like The Swan.  Remember that show?  It was all about less attractive women getting plastic surgery to become "beautiful".      

I never actually watched this show, but I remember how people felt about it.  It sent the message that to be valuable, a person has to be physically attractive.  But there are many reasons why a person might be appealing.  What if you're ugly, but hysterically funny?  

What if you look dowdy, but sing like an angel?  Susan Boyle anyone?  Actually, the whole Susan Boyle thing pisses me off because the quality of a person's singing voice has nothing to do with what they look like or how old they are.  Why shouldn't Susan be able to sing?  Of course, once she got famous, she got a makeover.      

One of my favorite singers, Lyle Lovett, is often described as ugly.  And yet, he is smart, witty, funny, and extremely talented.  I had the privilege of seeing him perform in Stuttgart, Germany in March 2009 and it was probably one of the best concerts I've ever been to.  By the way, my enjoyment of the show had nothing at all to do with what Lyle Lovett looks like.

Anyway, I do appreciate what Dove is trying to do with their ads about self-love and realizing that you're not as unattractive as you think you are.  You know what?  I think a lot of people are very self-critical about their looks because we're taught that being self-complimentary is bragging.  If you describe yourself as pretty, you open yourself up to someone telling you're not.  And worse, they'll probably accuse you of being conceited.  

On the other hand, collectively speaking, America has a pretty healthy level of narcissism going on.  If you travel to other countries, you quickly realize that people from other countries don't see Americans as nearly as "awesome" as many of us see ourselves sometimes.  Even today, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, there are lots of news stories about "heroes"-- people doing what any decent person would do in a crisis are being hailed as "heroic".  Not that we shouldn't praise people for being good and kind, but I think it's sad that people are so surprised by it.

The New York Yankees are being called "classy" because they played "Sweet Caroline" at a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox.  I actually did get a little choked up hearing about that gesture.  But playing a special song in honor of an opponent can hardly be described as particularly notable.  Baseball is just a game.  What the Yankees did was just plain good sportsmanship and we should expect that of them.

Anyway, I'm all for people being less hard on themselves.  I think women should be able to admit it when they're pretty without necessarily being accused of being boastful.  On the other hand, I don't think we really need to encourage Americans to be more narcissistic.  And really, while Dove's new ad sends home a nice message, we should remember that what it's really about is selling beauty products.  If we're all so much more attractive than we think we are, why do we need to buy Dove's products?      


  1. I so get where you're coming from on all accounts. How we look is so incredibly definitive in out views of whom we are. I've laways been told that someday I would probably be pretty because i resmble my mom, and resembled her at any given age, and my mom is pretty. I still see myself as the little messy tornado of a child. I don't know when if ever I'll actually be pretty, or even if I become such, i'll be able to see myself that way. cute in a ragamuffun sort of way, maybe, but not pretty.

    What this reminds me of is the Olympics hosted by China when they had a prettier child lip-synch a particular song because the little girl with the pure and perfect voice who did the actual singing wasn't quite pretty enough. It still makes me sick to think about it.

  2. For what it's worth, Alexis, I think you're quite pretty. At least in that photo on your blog and your cute kid picture, you are. I'm not one to flatter people, so you can take me at my word. I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it.

    I was always told I was cute when I was growing up, but never really felt that way. Nobody seemed particularly interested in me when I was coming of age. I had a boyfriend in high school, but he turned out to be gay. He's still a very good friend and we had a lot of fun together back when we dated, but he isn't really into women and wasn't back then. He was also a bit too intense back then. I've always had a lot of male friends, but that's mostly all they ever were.

    Now that I'm older, I think I look pretty good for 40. But it helps to be married to a man who seems to adore me. He loves me for many reasons other than my looks, though, which is a wonderful thing. I hate my husband's ex wife with an unparalleled passion, but I will always be grateful to her because she dumped him and now he's my husband. I couldn't have asked for a better partner.

    While I don't think you necessarily have to have someone tell you you're beautiful to feel or be beautiful, it's nice to hear it sometimes. But it's equally nice and valuable to be called smart, witty, funny, talented, etc.

    I still hate how I look on camera, though. Kudos to Dove for the insightful commercial, but at its core, that campaign is really about selling beauty products.


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