So, just in case everyone on your facebook feed hasn’t shared the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign, here it is. I watched it and it made me tear up. But since Declan weaned and my hormones have been less than stable, I’ve been crying a lot so it doesn’t really say much.
Predictably, there was backlash – just in the comments at the bottom of the page there is backlash. You cannot say the word “woman” and “beauty” in the same paragraph without the internets getting all uppity and everybody and their mother writing about it. So then everyone on my facebook feed posted this response. I don’t entirely disagree with her opinions. I appreciate that she had a balanced view of the campaign and pointed out both positives and negatives. She made me think more and changed some of my ideas.
This wasn’t the only blog to comment on the video. Just type “dove” into the search on your reader and you’ll get tons of opinions, both good and bad and mixed. I had two major reactions to the general thought that this is focusing on physical beauty and that physical beauty should not be important.
First, physical beauty matters. By saying this, I am not saying that we should all strive to be tall and thin and blue-eyed. I am saying that in every culture on this earth through every time since the dawn of human existence, physical appearance has mattered. There is nothing we can ever do to change that. We can change the way we feel about beauty, change the ideals of beauty, change the public perception of beauty, but we cannot in any way make it stop being of consequence to the human race. I don’t think we should. Our outward appearance is a part of each and every one of us. We can recognize that each person holds beauty, that the human form itself holds beauty, but we cannot entirely forget it.
Second, I am so damn tired of being told how to feel as a woman. I have struggled all my life, as I think many women have, to simultaneously recognize myself as beautiful and not let anyone know that I do so that I won’t be perceived as vain. While I think that the vast reach of the internet, especially bloggers (like myself, I know), has definitely upped the guilt factor for all people, and for women especially, this has always been the case. As women we are supposed to be physically attractive yet not care about physical appearance, we are supposed to be humble yet also strong and proud, we are supposed to support the men in our lives yet we are supposed to first help other women. It took me a very long time to look at myself and think, “hey, she looks good.” I’m not going to give that up because I’m supposed to think it doesn’t matter.
This is nothing new. The dreaded “mommy wars” rage on. I sat in a room full of women last night, women that I like, who I like spending time with, and I felt SO inferior. This was entirely on me. I was the only stay-at-home mom in the room. I know, I know, I do paid work, but for the most part, I take care of my kids. As I sat with them, I felt jealous, and stupid, and worthless. While this all went on in my own mind, it wasn’t without it’s outside influences.
Women are constantly being told what to do and how to feel in order to be “right” or “good.” I honestly feel that the comments on the Dove Beauty Sketches telling women that it is “uncomfortable” or that “…the message that we constantly receive is that girls are not valuable without beauty.” is just another way of telling women how to be and how to feel. If you value beauty, you are bad. You are not a real woman. You are not a feminist. You are not intelligent. You are hurting future generations of women.
So today I am being brave and I am putting my opinion on the internet. I say, feel beautiful as much as you can. I say, don’t feel guilty for telling a little girl that her pigtails look pretty. I say, remember that boys are valuable too – I happen to have made two of them. Most of all I say, feel the way you feel. You don’t have to share it with everyone, but you deserve to feel it.
I will end by saying, I am TERRIFIED to hit “publish post” on this. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want to make people feel wrong. But I feel the need to comment on this. I feel that, for once, I do want to write something controversial and something personal and something real. I apologize if it’s not as well thought out or researched or eloquent as I wish it could be. It’s just the way I’m feeling right now and today I’m sharing that.