Mirror, mirror

April 25th, 2013

Dove has gained recognition over the past few years for their campaign to embrace the natural beauty of women. Recently, it began advertising a commercial titled “Real Beauty Sketches,” which has since gained a great deal of attention from the media and the public in general.

The commercial features an FBI-trained forensic artist and several female volunteers. The forensic artist sits down with one participant at a time and asks her to describe herself. After he is finished drawing the initial set of portraits, a second batch of volunteers are called in one by one. These participants were directed beforehand to get to know one of the women who had just been sketched, and as they sat down with the artist, were asked to also describe their partner.

After the sketches were complete, they were placed side-by-side, and the volunteers were allowed to see them. They all found that the first sketch, the one they had described of themselves, featured a significantly less attractive and inaccurate portrait of themselves. The second sketch, which their partners had described, more closely resembled their true appearances and were more beautiful.

The objective of the experiment was to show how women are generally their own worst critics when it comes to their physical appearances. They are especially prone to seeing themselves in a more negative light than others. In this way, the commercial had an overall positive message, and based on the reactions of audiences, had a deeply emotional impact.

However, there were a few criticisms about the commercial. Several people noted that a majority of the participants in the experiment were thin and Caucasian, and only a few were of minority races. Furthermore, the qualities used to describe the women in an attractive light were mainly
“thin,” “young,” “narrow chin” and “bright blue eyes.”

These descriptions clearly exclude certain women from being considered naturally beautiful. In other words, women who are older, overweight or wrinkled were indirectly called out as ugly.

The real problem lies in the fact that so many women were deeply moved by this commercial. The reason for this emotional reaction is that physical beauty has become a key component in one’s happiness.

Instead of focusing on the surface qualities that make a person aesthetically beautiful, companies like Dove should promote the ideal that attractiveness does not determine the worth of a person. Beauty is fleeting, and it is more important to develop internal qualities such as acceptance and compassion, which are lasting.