Friday, April 26, 2013

Real Beauty

It's been a busy week.  I haven't been here as much as I'd like.  But that also means I've been doing other worthwhile things in my life, so that's good too.  No spotlight today, but hopefully soon!  I know I've got emails to respond to, but as always if you'd like to be a part of the spotlight please email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  
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My college art professor taught me that beauty is equal to light which is equal to truth.    

A lot of buzz has been going around regarding Dove's latest video, Real Beauty Sketches.  You know the one about women not seeing themselves as beautiful as other people see them.  I couldn't exactly pin point why, but I wasn't really blown away by the video.  I don't know... I guess because I found it a little too contrived among other things.  Then I read this article speaking out against this video and found myself also nodding along saying yes...yes.  For those that don't want to read the whole article right now, the gist of it is that first, Dove does make a good point in letting us know most of us are too hard on ourselves--it's true we could stand to see the good, even the outward good or beauty, a little more readily.  However, the fact that most of the women in the video fit into a pretty narrow definition of beauty doesn't really help expand our definition of beauty.  But it is her final thought that really gets me.  In Jazz's own words,  "At the end of the experiment, one of the featured participants states what I find to the most disturbing quote in the video and what Dove seems to this is the moral of the story as she reflects upon what she's learned, and how problematic it is that she hasn't been acknowledging her physical beauty:  "It's troubling," she says as uplifting music swells in the background.  "I should be more grateful of my natural beauty.  It impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we go out for, the way we treat our children, it impacts everything.  It couldn't be more critical to your happiness."  Did you hear that, ladies?  How beautiful you are affects everything--from your personal relationships to your career.  It could not be more critical to your happiness!" That is a troubling message indeed.

Interestingly enough I had come across this article on CNN a few days prior to watching that video and saved it knowing I'd want to share it with you all sometime.  As I watched that video and read the article speaking out against the video, I kept coming back to this article about a girl named Penny.




This is Penny.  She was born with two different birth defects that have left her face disfigured.  In the words of her sister, Penny is truly beautiful.  She's always seeing the best in others and never has an unkind word for anyone.  As I watched that Dove video, with it's mixed message, feeling my mixed emotions (I like to be beautiful!  I don't think beauty is wrong.  But essential to our happiness?  I don't think so...) I thought about Penny and about the real beauty in this world and how real beauty, if it were a more desirable and sought after trait, would actually be life changing and world altering.   

Beauty = Light = Truth.    

I would be a hypocrite if I didn't acknowledge that I spend my fair share of time trying to look beautiful--make-up, hair, cute clothes, exercise.  The truth is I do feel better when I look more put together.  Showering, getting dressed and doing my hair and make-up daily were some of the key elements in helping me fight off post-partum depression after the birth of my first daughter.  I believe that our physical selves and spiritual selves are so closely intertwined.  BUT I believe this is more in how we care for our bodies than in fitting a worldly definition of beauty.  That being said, I'm still more vain that I'd like to admit.  So there it is... the internal conundrum.  

But back to Penny.  Please read her story.  Please read about her sad and lonely childhood.  Read about Penny not having friends and being made fun of, even humiliated.  Read about the pain she suffered because of how she looks on the outside.  And then read about her resilience.  Read about Penny's choice to see the good in the world around her.  And read about her desires to educate others about individuals who are born with malformations (in fact the whole article was written because Penny wrote to CNN about their own ignorance regarding pictures they published--amazing.).  Read about her gratitude and her good heart.  

In my book, that is real inspiration.  That is real beauty.  


18 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. I too was conflicted by the Dove campaign, seeing it through different eyes than many of my fb friends that were giving it praises. I read this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-fridkis/tproblem-with-dove-real-beauty-sketches-campaign_b_3104450.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false
    pretty much agreeing with it. But you opened my eyes wider than my 'bubble' to humanity and women as a collective. Have you ever been around someone who, on societies terms, is not attractive, but after being with them, hearing their stories, knowing who they are, they become the most beautiful person? Actually physcially, not just on the inside? I find that so amazing when that happens.

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    1. BMarie--Yes! I have had that experience, people who are beautiful on the inside become even more beautiful--physically beautiful--on the outside as you get to know them. And Ive also seen this work in reverse--someone who is beautiful on the outside has become really ugly to me when they have shown their inside to be manipulative, deceitful and dishonest.

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  2. Anonymous9:45 AM

    Thank you, Miggy.

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  3. Love Penny, love the little drops article, and love your post!

    But for anyone looking for a lighter spin on things, this take on the Dove Campaign is pretty darn funny (watch to the end, it's so good!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8Jiwo3u6Vo

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    1. Yes I saw that too....loved it.

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  4. This really spoke to me as well! The video was being lauded all over my facebook and it didn't sit right with me. My issue comes from the fact that Dove is a company owned by Unilever, which also owns Axe (bodyspray etc). Axe commercials are typically misogynist and feature stick-skinny "beautiful" women behaving like sex-crazed maniacs and throwing themselves at men because they use their body spray. I can't get on board with pitching "real beauty" to sell products to women and sexist images to sell products to men.

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    1. Rachel,

      I know. In the end Dove is a company and what they really want is our money. I DO think they are trying to do something positive here, but yes it makes it a little harder to swallow knowing they are owned by a parent company that doesn't seem to share the values Dove is striving to embrace. Again, I don't think Dove is all wrong, I do appreciate a lot of their efforts--even if they are a large corporation whose bottom line will always come down to the bottom line.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing Penny's story! This was the perfect lunchtime pick-me-up ... inspiration for the rest of my day! I was also less than impressed by the Dove spots, and I'm so glad others are speaking out against the idea that it matters how much physical beauty we do or don't perceive in ourselves.

    Blessings,
    Jennifer
    http://www.fromhouse2home.us

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    1. Glad it was uplifting Jennifer!

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  6. Thanks for sharing! I didn't know the ad (not seen this version here). At least it has the merits of showing women who are not amazingly slim or amazingly young, and the 'you are more beautiful than you think' is great. But the women shown are still in the classic beauty range, and that quote about how beauty affects so many things in our lives is indeed unsettling. Although it speaks about 'natural beauty' so it might again refer more to that inner beauty, the beauty others see and we fail to see because we focus on our physical defects. So I guess I have mixed feelings about the ad, like you. Thanks for sharing about Penny, I've read the article and was shaken as I am always when I read about how human beings can be mean to others. That people can be abused or insulted or avoided because of their looks makes me sad and angry. But people brave and good-hearted like Penny have a beauty that shines through and this beauty never fades with age. Penny is smart and doesn't give in. She values friendship and she has love to give. It is this natural beauty that radiates because it comes from the inside. Again, thanks for sharing!

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  7. I have two sons. I work very hard to teach them about viewing women for WHO they are, not WHAT they look like. My 13 year old son had a dance class at the end of school today that included 7th-12th graders. The teachers focused on proper dancing etiquette. My son told me how he went up to this special young lady that had been born with cleft lip/palate. (She was adopted when she was older so she only recently has been having surgeries to fix this issue.) When he asked her to dance, she asked him if he was kidding her! (This really broke my heart for her.) He told her no and asked her again if she would dance with him. He said her face lit up and she giggled. He told me how he spun her around, literally, and how much she laughed and enjoyed herself on that dance floor. I couldn't be more proud of him!

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    1. That's great! I have two young sons (6 & 3). You are obviously doing a great job!

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    2. Kiki,

      That's phenomenal! I got teary reading that comment--what a wonderful job you've done and what a wonderful son you have. I am so grateful there are moms and sons like you out in the world!

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  8. I think I must have been one of the few women actually moved by the Dove Beauty Sketches video. I related to it on a personal level, both as a woman who has struggled in the past not to be so hard on myself, and as a therapist who works with young women everyday struggling to accept themselves and see the beautiful person they really are.

    I didn't take the final comment on the video as her saying that it's how beautiful we are that affects everything. The message I got was that it's our own PERCEPTION of our beauty and our (in)ability to see the beauty in ourselves that affects us and our lives so profoundly. I do agree that they could have expanded on the women they chose to participate and it would be great to see that in the future, but the message that we are too critical of ourselves came across in a very real way to me.

    Thank you for sharing the link to Penny's story. How inspiring it is to see her not allow her loveliness to be tainted by the cruelty of others.

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    1. Audriana,

      Yes, I think that message that we are too critical came across well, but as you already know...the rest just didn't sit well. That being said, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm glad it was positive for you! And of course I'm glad you liked Penny's story as well. Her undeniable beauty was the point I was trying to drive home. Thanks!

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  9. "I didn't take the final comment on the video as her saying that it's how beautiful we are that affects everything. The message I got was that it's our own PERCEPTION of our beauty and our (in)ability to see the beauty in ourselves that affects us and our lives so profoundly. I do agree that they could have expanded on the women they chose to participate and it would be great to see that in the future, but the message that we are too critical of ourselves came across in a very real way to me." -Audriana

    Thank you Audriana for pointing this fact out. Miggy and possibly some others have taken that quote the wrong way and can be harmful when it was meant to help. I, too, was moved by this commercial and hate to see it criticized.

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    1. Elaine,

      I don't think it's a "I'm right, you're wrong" sort of thing. I don't think I took it the wrong way, per se, I think my point of view is valid. I just wasn't moved by this video. And clearly I'm not the only one. That being said I think your point of view is valid. I'm glad you and Audriana (and many others I'm sure) enjoyed the video and were touched by it's message. And I thought aspects of it were good as stated above.

      But my real point in all of this was that when watching this video all I could think about was Penny. I kept thinking about her struggles--struggles that would crush the spirit of so many people, yet she still radiants a kindness and joy that is visible. Many people might give her license to be a bitter person and say they wouldn't blame her for being unhappy after all she's been through--especially being given a disfigured face--but regardless of the life-long struggles she has endured, and will continue to endure, she chooses happiness. For me, her story was leaps and bounds more inspiring and did a much better job at capturing real beauty than the Dove video.

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  10. Spot on. I thought the video was overhyped, and wasn't overly moved when I saw it, either. LOVE the Penny video. (My sister just had a baby and named her Penny, so I am extra partial to it)

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