Dove and Beauty

Apparently I’m a weirdo in more ways than I thought.

I care what others think about me.

By the looks of things, I’m the lone freak of my friends in that regard. Everyone says they don’t care and they are offended by the “real beauty” ad campaign by Dove.

I’m not.

I’m not weeping with joy over it either, though. When they started, I recall I reposted the jump-cut collage ad they did about beauty ads and little girls. I liked it, I thought it was an exceptional and powerful statement. The fact that Dove paid for it to be made didn’t bother me one bit. Sure, they hoped that by doing “reverse psychology” ads they’d clean their brand a bit but I’m not an idiot. It was a well-made piece of video art and I liked it and the message it conveyed.

What I appreciated more than their ad campaign was their self-esteem movement for young girls. It’s not perfect and yes, again, its a way of establishing brand recognition and all that but again I don’t care. Good deeds are good deeds even if the person who does the deeds is not inherently a great person.

But oh holy hell I caught for liking that ad. Because after all, its a beauty company and we, as women, are painfully aware of how beauty companies look on us.

But I’m not ready to blame Dove alone for all the damage that the beauty industry has caused to women (and indirectly, men too)

I just can’t do that.

Okay, so their campaign is insincere. Self-serving. Biased. Slanted. Insidiously furthering the same agenda of “you’re not pretty enough”.

Yep, its a beauty company.

Other beauty companies, the ones we are NOT putting under a microscope and castigating are still doing their usual thing of screaming “MEIN GOTT YOU ARE HIDEOUS!” as well as ” for Gawds Sake Cover yourself up!”

So… we ignore them (still) since they aren’t going to change?

We slice and dice Dove for at least breaking with tradition? For at least superficially saying we should feel better about ourselves?

Yes, they are trying to sell products. Products many of us buy. So if they choose to change their marketing strategy to a more subtle form of “use our products to be beautiful” rather than “you are ugly” I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is ignoring the real problem; the fact that the beauty industry is as influential as it is.

Yes I care what other people think. My life doesn’t revolve around strangers’ opinions and my self-esteem isn’t so delicate that I need outside validation of my worth as a human based on my genetic lottery winnings. However, I like being told I’m attractive in some way or another. It is one tiny thing to add to the basket of “doggone-it, people like me”

And yes, I like “pretty” to some degree. But I’m not supposed to say that any more than I’m supposed to say “I’m pretty”. In fact, its a terrible terrible thing to appreciate physical beauty in a human being unless that human being is a total stranger none of us will ever actually meet. Somehow that seems “wrong” to me.

Nobody would slander me if I said I like a nice floral bouquet. Nobody would give me stink-eye if I hung a portrait of Natalie Portman or Eric Stoltz on my wall. But if I say anything remotely related to “I like attractive people” then instantly I am cast as shallow, callous and superficial. Heaven forfend I say I fine myself attractive. Then I’m not only shallow, callous and superficial, now I’m vain and conceited too.

Well guess what?

I do like attractive people.

I also know that I am an attractive person.

In fact, to some people, I’m very pretty.

To others, I’m hideously ugly.

Oh wait, now I self-denigrated. Oops.

Look, physical attributes exist. In all shapes, hues, and limits. We are humans and we have preferences. Its okay to like a certain food but not like a certain physical look?

So when I say “I like attractive people”, what do you really think of me?

This is aside from the argument of what do I actually consider attractive in the first place. Most people wouldn’t even think to bother asking me to clarify myself. They’d write me off as vain and that’d be that.

I can’t recall ever meeting anything I didn’t think was attractive in some form or another. So I feel perfectly justified in saying that I like attractive people. When I finally meet someone who is completely unattractive in every aspect of life, then maybe I’ll reassess that opinion… or their humanity.

For now, I’ll sum it up thusly: One beauty company decided to change their strategy from offensive and demeaning to just subtly pressuring. I can live with that.

Attractive people exist all around, everywhere. I wish more of them knew their own attractiveness because self-esteem hinges on all aspects of our person, not just any one attritbute.

Noticing someone’s beauty, including YOUR OWN, is not inherently negative at all. Its when you fail to see other attributes, non-physical attributes, as part and parcel of that person’s beauty. That’s the problem.

I never will expect the beauty industry to care about that.

But what about us? By focusing our ire on Dove, we are, in some weird way, reinforcing their belief about us; all we can think about is whether or not we all fit the physical beauty mold. We’re angry so many of us don’t and are made to feel bad about it and we should be angry, but let’s not blame Dove for putting blinders on our eyes about the REST of “real beauty” – we did that ourselves and until we consciously stop doing it? Dove and their ilk will keep exploiting it.


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