April 18, 2013

By Gabrielle. Image shot by Alix Martinez for Salt Magazine.

I love my body; it works in all the ways I need it to work. And even though there are a few features that have seen better days — bonjour, post-baby hair and lopsided breasts! —  I never really agonize over beauty. I am who I am. That said, if you asked me to describe myself to someone else, I guess I might list all my flaws first. Why is that? To keep it real? So that no one thinks I’m too happy with myself? Or worse, too proud? (Or even worse than that: completely delusional!)

All that to say, Dove’s latest ad campaign left me with tears and one swelled heart:

If you ask a little girl to describe herself, she will tell you of her beauty as long as you’ll listen. How fast her legs race, how strong are her muscles, and the birthmarks her family has told her are remarkable. She will be clear that she is beautiful. It’s simply one of many facts she has learned in her short life.

When does this love for ourselves disappear? And why? If you feel compelled — here in the comments or even aloud in the quiet of your own home — describe yourself honestly. Two or three amazing characteristics. With a smile on your face while doing so. Because, Friends, we are so much more beautiful than we think.

P.S. — In case you’re curious, this isn’t a sponsored post and I’m not working with Dove, but I wish I was! I keep hearing about their amazing work.

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1 {plum} April 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

though succinct, this could be a favorite of your words. It’s so well written and poignant.

we. are. beautiful. say it again.

Dove’s mission to spread the word is enlightening and lovely.


2 Alissa April 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

On the surface, this seems like a great ad, but its underlying message is actually very troubling. Here’s a good response to it:

Not to mention that Dove is owned by Unilever who also owns Axe body spray and puts out “the most sexist and objectifying ads out there” (also noted in the above article).


3 Miggy April 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

Interesting link Alissa.

I too wasn’t that impressed with this video. I didn’t find it mind blowing…and while I didn’t exactly know why, I think the article you linked to pinpointed some of my issues with it as well.

That being said, going back to Gabby’s original questions–one of the other reasons I didn’t like this video is that (this is a little uncomfortable to admit outloud, but here it goes) I DO think I’m pretty. I DO have confidence in my looks and for me the problem lies in that I feel I can’t/shouldn’t/am not supposed to be honest about that. I know that sounds a little hypocritical when I agree with the above link–but not really. I can be pleased with my looks while still knowing, really KNOWING, that is not that important/fundamental to my happiness (or at least it shouldn’t be… I’m not perfect). Body issues are a very big issue for me as I have a daughter who has a beautiful face, but whose body will never conform to society’s standard of beauty as she was born with some rather significant birth defects. And she has an older sister who so far embodies the “ideal” –tall for her age, very thin. I’ve put a lot of thought into teaching about our bodies and how we should properly love and respect them regardless of all the many things we can’t control.

Although I don’t think Dove is completely off their rocker for trying to push women to see their beauty because I think wanting to feel beautiful is a rather fundamental part of womanhood–not necessarily something pushed on us by society. I’ve seen it in my young girls as they would drape themselves in ribbons and fabric with no promptings or examples from me. I certainly think the media portrays a narrow, messed up version of beauty.

I feel like I’m talking in circles…it’s a tough subject to wrap up nicely in a few sentences/paragraphs.


4 Angela April 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

Yep. That’s a great article. I was moved by the Dove ads at first, too, but it’s advertising. They don’t have my best interest at heart. They want to sell me something.


5 Ellen E April 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

Thank you for the link Alissa, I couldn’t agree with you more.

While we like to think Dove genuinely cares, it’s all marketing. All they really want is for you to buy their products. The company is playing on generalized weaknesses. For men (the Axe advertising), it’s women, so all their ads are about how men can get these model like women by using their products. For women it’s about our appearances.
Business-wise, they’re both smart campaigns :(


6 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

Sounds like a compelling article. I look forward to reading it.

Personally, I’m not ready to write off Dove. Axe certainly isn’t something I support with purchases or mentions, but that doesn’t mean everything Unilever does is automatically evil.


7 Maggie April 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

I suspect this self-confidence dissolves around the same time that a child’s creativity becomes choked with self-doubt and criticism; when they start declaring that they cannot draw. (According to Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” it’s around grade 4.) Something about our rationalization / self control mechanisms switching on in our brains may lead to some unfortunate side-effects if we do not nurture our minds lovingly — like thinking we are not beautiful. (And therefore not valuable? — I admit I wish there was a message that reminded people that beauty isn’t everything, but that’s not a compelling argument, and frankly that’s not the problem Dove is trying to solve. And that’s totally fair.)

I recall that personally I began to question my appearance at age 13, but that was because I found I was emulating others, rather than expressing how I actually wanted to be. But then, I never stopped drawing either.


8 Katie April 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

My smile is big and bright.
My legs are strong.
My hands are at once delicate and dextrous. (just like my Mom’s)

Beauty isn’t everything. But I would argue that everything has its own beauty.

Something my Grandpa always says whenever we travel somewhere different from the prairies of North Dakota.

Thanks for sharing and your positive spin on this, Gabrielle.


9 Laura April 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

This: “Beauty isn’t everything. But I would argue that everything has its own beauty.”

Is perfect.

Thank you.


10 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:03 am

I love everything about your comment, Katie!


11 Megan M. April 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

Me too!


12 Gia April 18, 2013 at 9:37 am

I love their ads too. Unfortunately I bought a big bottle of their fragrance free body wash, and it smelled so strongly of fragrance I checked the label. Right there on the back it said fragrance. Was so disappointed. Have permanently switched to the fabulous Castille brand with all the crazy Lettering… In rose… It’s the best… Xo


13 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

What a bummer! You must have been so frustrated.


14 Rachel April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

Ah, I love this video (and it did make me cry). I appreciate your reflection on it, Gabby.

Interestingly enough, I did something quite similar to this when I was about 15. I drew an “ugly” self portrait of myself — one with an oversized mole on my cheek, bigger-than-life nose, and frizzy hair. My mom was horrified when she found it in my drawer–until she found my “pretty” self-portrait, which was much more flattering and true-to-life. I eventually threw away the “ugly” version.

I still marvel at my self-assured adolescent self who knew to express these two views of herself. And I wonder if I could do this now so confidently as I did then.


15 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

Wow! That is amazing, Rachel. I love that you were so self-aware at such a young age.


16 allysha April 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

I think this is a interesting video, but I do have mixed emotions about it. I admit I shed a tear while watching it (clever music, clever shots- yes my husband works in film and I am a little jaded!)

We live in a world where we care intensely about our appearance, and I suppose it is a good thing to know that people see us as more beautiful than we think we are. But it also continues to support the idea that outward beauty is The Thing. So in the end, I am torn.

I want my girls to know they are beautiful. I do want that inherent knowledge for them, but I want it to come not from looking in the mirror, but from the inside. Knowing they are intrinsically of value, that they can do amazing things, that they have talents they use to bless others. I also know this world can be a hard place, and coming to have this internal knowledge about true worth and beauty can be a hard fight. So yeah, still torn.


17 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity April 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

I remember the day my daughter first felt embarrassed about how she looked. She was about 8 or 9 years old at dance class and she told me that all the other mothers and teachers were commenting on how big the bun in her hair was (she has very very thick hair and did have an enormous bun compared to everyone else in the class who still had baby fine hair). She started to hate her hair and has only made peace with it over the past few years (and she is turning 21 this month). It made me so sad that she hated something that I thought looked so beautiful on her. Given that I have very thin, fine, straight hair, I always loved her thick wavy hair with natural highlights.

I like how I look. I’m very middling – not gorgeous and not ugly – and I have always thought that was the perfect way to be, so you weren’t always self-conscious about how you look and you don’t get attention for being beautiful. I love my smile, my strong lean legs, and now that I’m older I appreciate that I’m pretty well preserved for someone my age – not too much gray hair or too many wrinkles for a 54 year old.


18 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

Oh. That breaks my heart, Grace. I’m sure your daughters hair is wonderful, I’m sorry she’s seen it as a burden.

Your second paragraph really resonated with me. I feel the same way! As someone who understands the world visually, I’ve always felt like I had a solid sense of where I stood on the “looks” scale. And I was satisfied. Like you, I wasn’t self-conscious about how I look, and I though I got plenty of attention, it was never for being beautiful.

As for the gray hair, it found me at age 13. I’ve been dyeing my hair for ages and I can’t decide when I’ll stop. : )


19 Giulia April 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

I agree with many of the comments above – I am often torn. I find particularly for women it’s a huge issue as our bodies go through more extreme changes in adulthood, especially with pregnancy. It’s hard to wrap your head around it when such changes are brought upon you without your doing.
But, I also think there are issues like this that face our young boys these days (tall, built, not-geeky, bald, acne etc) and we can’t ignore that issue with our children either.
But truly what my first thought was when watching this video and seeing many discussion on them on different blogs was that ‘eye witnesses’ really aren’t reliable as they always say on crime shows ;)
We all have different perceptions, see things differently and remember different attributes. I’m sure had these people talked to these women longer, the comments would not have been about pretty blue eyes and nice chins, but rather about kindness, worldly knowledge, exceptional talents etc. Our first impressions are always very shallow.


20 Susan April 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

I lost my sense of self-beauty the day I heard these words as a girl…”you’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight”…that was 35 years ago and I still don’t think there is anything beautiful about me.


21 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

Oh. Susan. “You’d be pretty” is an awful way to start a sentence. I’m sorry you ever had to hear that.


22 KelliO April 18, 2013 at 10:19 am

I have a bright smile and eyes.
I am a dancer. I love to move and speak through my body.
I strive to have a generous heart.

I think one of the greatest gifts I received was my mother teaching me to be confident. She literally would sing the song from The Sound of Music for spelling bees, interviews, etc. When I complained about curvy legs, she reminded me I’m glad I have two. When I complained about lack of curves, she taught me, “It’s easier to add than to take away.” Although not always fitting into the most popular beauty mold herself, she taught me to focus on the positive.

I enjoyed this video and I agree that the mold isn’t everything. What struck me is how one woman described her pictures: one “closed off… sadder,” the other “more open, friendly, happy.” I’ll never have the green eyes I wish for, but I can choose to be more friendly and happy. That is the kind of beauty I’d like to focus on, and it is something I can choose. A little less concern for our perceived flaws and a little more concern for others and the world around us is real beauty!


23 Amanda April 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

I think we lose love for ourselves because we fail to understand what we truly are in the first place, and then we get sidetracked early and often by so many external markers of beauty, value and worth. It’s easy to start heeding those societal cues if you don’t have a particularly strong alternative way of thinking about yourself.

Every single person on this earth has intrinsic value and dignity. Every single person on this earth has talents and gifts no one else will ever have in exactly the same combination and degree ever again. Every one of us comes into this world with beauty — albeit not a purely visual, superficial kind — inherent to our makeup, and we have within us the potential to multiply that beauty in every mundane action and choice we make, in every life we touch, no matter what we look like on the outside.

Imagine, if every single person grew up hearing that message — embracing it, believing it and looking for ways to apply his wonderfully unique gifts and talents for the good of others?

I was brought up to think of myself and others this way by my immediate and extended Catholic family. It was a given, passed down in everyday interactions and conversations from every adult around (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles) to every child, that we are created in God’s image, designed to be so much more on so many levels than pretty faces to our fellow men, or a catalog of “awesome!” characteristics in our own minds.

As a teenager and young adult, of course I compared myself to others and placed a little to much value probably in others’ perceptions of me. But I never altogether lost the you-are-bigger-than-your-looks sense of self I was raised to respect and value. At 32 now, it seems like my girlfriends and I only squander time, talent and valuable brain space when we wind ourselves up over a too self-serving preoccupation with beauty.

I vote for spending more time impressing who and what we truly are upon our kids (and ourselves) than the comparatively one-note “You are beautiful!” mantra seen so much these days in commercials and magazine ads and emblazoned across “I am woman, hear me roar!”/”attitude-esque” merchandise.

When I think of passing on a healthy sense of self to my boys and girls, doing so through the lens of faith seems to take into account the worth and value of the entire person, through every stage of life, amid every economic class, across the entire 0-10 looks scale, whether your body remains strong and healthy or is ravaged by sickness or accident. If you look at who you are and what you’re here for bigger-picture — and have parents/relatives/etc. around you who do, too — you can recover a little quicker and easier when those inevitable stages of superficial self-doubt grab hold.


24 melanie April 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

A friend of mine ( are raising daughters who happen to be best friends. We talk often about how we are going to preserve that ability to see the beauty in themselves, and sometimes in the very next breath will comment about the state of our thighs and love handles. We decided that when we catch each other focusing on the negative, we would hae to say5 beautiful things about ourselves and we COULDN’T shy away from the physical things. It was powerful. It was awkward. It didn’t last, but I think I will try to bring it back (maybe 3 is more do-able). I have a helping heart. I have beautiful hands. I can run.


25 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

Melanie, what a powerful practice to share with a friend. Good for you!


26 Heather April 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

I love the insistence to name beautiful things about ourselves. Love it!


27 Design Mom April 18, 2013 at 11:17 am

I’m over the moon about these comments! So much good thought and interesting discussion. I’m stepping away for some family time, but I hope you keep them coming. I look forward to jumping back in later today.


28 Heather April 18, 2013 at 11:17 am

I understand where some of the commenters are coming from about putting too much emphasis on our outward appearance. But, I don’t think that this is what this ad is about. I actually think it’s trying to say that we are most judgmental about ourselves and not others. We are always striving to be prettier because we think we’re ugly or broken, but in reality, we are not seen that way at all. Others see us as beautiful, unperfect human beings (and yes, I’m making unperfect a word).

This reminds me of an “Ask Amy” episode when Amy Poehler reads a question from an email sent to her and answers it with her opinion. The question was from a young girl asking Amy what to do when she feels ugly and not good enough because of her looks (a paraphrase). Amy gives a very heartfelt honest answer (paraphrasing again) saying, “we all sometimes feel this way. But you have to look at yourself at the mirror and pretend you’re talking to your sister or mother or aunt or niece and tell her that she’s beautiful just the way she is…because you’d be telling her the truth.”

I watched that episode over and over again and teared up each time. I was post-birth of twins and really not feeling good about myself at all and refused to listen when anyone would compliment me on the way I was looking. I always thought they were “just being nice” not honest. But watching that episode of “Ask Amy” made me realize that I would say to my aunt, niece, mother, best friend that she is beautiful….and I would be telling the truth.

No matter how much we want to deny it, the way we look matters. And our cultural idea of beauty changes just like our personal idea of beauty changes. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all love our bodies and our selves the way they are? Love them enough to take care of them and nurture them? That doesn’t mean we have to all look the same or look like the most recent super popular tween movie star. It just means that we have to accept ourselves…because if we did, we would stop caring about what we looked like compared to others. We might be happier and less self-conscious.

I have beautiful blue eyes. I have soft skin. I have very small feet (and tiny toes, which I love).


29 Megan M. April 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I love that Ask Amy! It made me cry as well.


30 Cheryl Burchett April 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

I teach high school art and I keep interesting art related videos on hand to share with my students. Every year my classes. Do at least one elf portrait and it can be tough. I realized part of the problem was t just the skill involved but having to look at yourself and let others see yourself. I’m not sure about the takeaway here, but it is a reminder of how fragile we all are.


31 Rachael April 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

I used to really worry about what would happen when I got older. I feel like I’m often instantly judged by my physical appearance (I’ll never forget someone asking if I was so-and-so, and saying yes, I was, and the other woman told me that her friend had told her to look for the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen and it would be me. A compliment, yes, but it caused me sleepless nights later!). I realize it sounds silly to be stressed by this, but I’ve always been worried about how my interactions with the world would change as I aged and how I would adapt to that.

Having children and taking up running has helped me so much. Both have taught me that my body can accomplish wonderful things no matter what it looks like, and that it is capable of MUCH more than just beauty. (Both have also helped me to feel like I don’t have to be polished, made-up, and perfectly styled all the time–I love the times I’m makeup-less in yoga pants!) This mentality of gratitude for the capabilities of my physical body is what I want to pass on to my children, more than my hair or eyes or smile.


32 Caitlin in MD April 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

This is only slightly off-topic, but it flashed in my mind as I was reading through these (fantastic) comments. I have thin but curly hair that rarely looks “polished,” only when I put the effort into making it so. Most mornings I leave the house with a wet head and…let the hairs fall where they may :) Anyway, one random day when I was 24 years old, I blow-dried my hair straight before work (which, like I said before, was something I NEVER did). I will never forget what my boss, a woman, said to me that day when I came into the office: “OH! Look at your hair! It looks beautiful. We need to find you a boyfriend.” It stung, for a lot of reasons.


33 Becky April 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I have such mixed feelings about this ad, because it has a good message in some parts – don’t be so hard on yourself – but ends with a terrible message – that beauty is important in every aspect of our life, that it is in fact critical for our happiness.
It also annoys me a bit that everyone in the ad was pretty traditionally attractive to begin with. No cystic acne, no “misshapen” features … Has Dove ever told a morbidly obese woman that she is beautiful?
But it reminds me to focus more deeply on the mixed messages I give myself and my kids. My daughter is six and I’ve struggled since she was born to try not to unduly focus on her looks. It’s hard, because I grew up in a family that was rather focused on appearance and it’s hard not to automatically emulate that. And of course I think my daughter is gorgeous. She’s sunny and vibrant and spirited and her beauty shines out from every pore.
To the people who argue that beauty IS really important, it is. But only because we make it that way, and we train our children to make it that way through our words and choices and actions.
So I’m conducting my own social experiment. For the rest of the month, I will not allow beauty to be the focus of my words. If my daughter asks how she looks, I’ll compliment her clothing choice or sense of style.
When my heart swells as I look at her – which is pretty much always – and I want to remind her how special she is, I’ll focus on her intelligence and bravery and competitiveness and determination and compassion and creativity, not her lovely smile or glistening hair.
When I get dressed, I won’t ask my husband how I look. I’ll ask myself how I feel – comfortable? Confident? Eager?
I guess I just want to put beauty where it belongs, lower on the list of what I and my kids notice about ourselves and others.


34 Megan M. April 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I love all of these comments!

I was really affected by the Dove video when I saw it yesterday. I realize it’s not a perfect, racially diverse, completely altruistic message, but I think it was done with good intentions, and Dove has done other ads for their Real Beauty campaign that featured more diverse types of women.

Yes, in a perfect world, womens’ appearance and beauty wouldn’t be get more emphasis and attention than their intelligence and their spirit, but we are not living in a perfect world and we are bombarded with all levels of “you’re not good enough” and “you’re not pretty enough” on a daily basis, so ANYTHING that says, “Hey. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re great the way you are” is a win, to me.

My 3 yr old has gorgeous curls and she literally makes strangers stop in their tracks and tell her it’s beautiful every day. My 5 yr old stands right there, with her beautiful straight hair, and they say nothing to her. I try to mend this. I say “Yes, both my girls have beautiful hair” and I tell my 5 yr old about how as a teen, my best friend had striking red hair that she would get complimented on and I would get ignored, but she still cries about it later.

I’m a bad example for them. I have always had low self-esteem and I’ve had people tell me I’m ugly, and my skin and weight have changed for the worse since I’ve had children. I don’t know how to make them see how beautiful they are and how smart and wonderful they are. I tell them all the time, but I just don’t know if it’s enough. :/


35 Meg April 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Oh, Gabrielle, you had me in tears. This is something I think we all struggle with as women, really and truly. As much as we know we shouldn’t, we are all much too hard on ourselves to the detriment of ourselves and those that love us. My husband and I had date night last night at the MFA in Boston and one thing I took away from all the amazing artwork, is how the female ideal has changed. The current ideal is thin, very thin, whereas the portraits and nudes I saw last night wore curves, bellies, and roundness quite beautifully. Thank you for this post, so very much…you’ve given me the push to finally write the post I’ve been writing since the ride home last night.


36 Meg April 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

and now, the blog post is done…thanks, Gabrielle, from the bottom of my heart.


37 Dee Wilcox April 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I have strong legs.

My eyes smile when I smile. They can’t help it.

I have strong arms to lift, hold, comfort, and protect my little girl.

This is clearly a marketing campaign, but as women, we can’t deny how the issue of perceived beauty affects us. It simply does. We know that our worth isn’t tied to our beauty, but if you’re having a bad hair day, let’s be honest — it affects you. Having confidence and teaching our children that is incredibly important.

My two-year-old daughter spotted a little Barbie beauty set the other night and decided to use her Christmas money from Grandma to purchase it. It included a blow dryer, brush, curling iron, straight iron, and mirror (all plastic, of course). My husband caught her brushing her hair, looking in her mirror, and saying, “I pretty.” He got on her level, looked her in the eyes, and said, “You are absolutely beautiful.”

I’m so thankful for a spouse who sees that and speaks it into her life.


38 KelliO April 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Yes! My favorite compliments are from my father. In high school he would reguarly call me “Gorgeous.” Your story made me teary eyed.


39 Mel April 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Perhaps the solution is to spend more time celebrating other people. I will admit that receiving compliments from other women is empowering. It makes you feel like you are special, and feeling special makes you feel beautiful.

Does anyone else remember specific compliments they have received from other women (friends; cousins; mothers; mentors)? These resonate with us for months or even years. Why not spread the love?!


40 chelsea April 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I just watched the ad last night and really enjoyed it. As previous commenters mentioned, it’s all for marketing yes, but that IS their job and I can see the good they’re doing! A lot of good.

For everyone, but mostly myself:
I have great shapely lips
I have clear pretty skin
I have good, thick wavy hair


41 Jessie April 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I think it is an interesting and effective ad, and a great conversation topic!

I am in my mid thirties and as I get older I think I find myself more beautiful! I have thick, strong, former soccer playing legs that let me run around the yard with my son. I’m starting to get smile lines around my eyes and mouth and it reminds me of my mom when I see pictures of myself. I work with my hands every day, cutting wood, sanding, painting…they look awful! But it reminds me that I get to do what I love for a living. I’m starting to go gray (which is still a battle of to dye it or not) and my husband tells me that going gray is the gift of wisdom. I have big brown eyes that stare right back at me from my son’s face… And nothing is more beautiful than that!


42 tere April 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I wrote a post about this video too today, at the same time you were posting this. I’m aware it’s a commercial video, but it’s not less true because of that. I think it all comes up to: being happy of who we are and start living happy no matter what, that shows in our beauty, in our self-confidence. I love this quote by Roald Dahl in The Twits (and the awesome illustration by Quentin Blake): “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Takes a man to explain it to children… ;^)


43 Carrie Stroud April 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I’m disappointed in many of these comments that seem to be negative towards this Dove campaign. I don’t care what company supports what company, but I do care about the fact that ANY message telling a woman that she is beautiful on the outside is great. I applaud them for doing it, because every other media source states perfection and a certain type of beauty is what we should aspire to. Yes, the inside is what counts, but I truly think the outside does as well. We would be ignorant to think it does not. Not everyone is model (as the world perceives) beautiful, but EVERY woman has outward beauty in some form and considering the world we live in, it IS important to find and acknowledge that about ourselves and one another.

I have quite a few prominent moles on my face. I call them beauty marks and every time a little child looks and asks about them (which they often do so innocently), I tell them they are angel kisses.

I have great legs.

My eyes are rock’n.


44 Carrie Stroud April 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Also– this is one of the best poetry slams about this subject I have ever seen:) There is an “appropriate” F-bomb so watch out…but the end just gives me chills.


45 Angel Kho April 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

The video is superficial. It still focuses on women’s outward appearance. Beauty shouldn’t have impact on how we make friends, applying for jobs and raising kids. Sadly, the world doesn’t see it that way. There was an article circling around Facebook a year ago on how we should compliment little girls. The author talked about how people should steer away from making compliments on their look, like , “You are so cute!” or “You are pretty!” instead focus on other qualities, like “you are a kind girl.” “You are a great helper!” I couldn’t have agreed more.


46 Val April 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Fantastic discussion going on here! I watched this just yesterday, and I think it really reminded me that as women we often judge whether we ourselves are beautiful based solely on outward features. But, I loved that in the video each stranger found a different kind of beauty in the women they talked to — the kind that shines from the inside out. I was struck by the fact that beauty isn’t really about having the perfect facial features or bone structure or even anything tangible. Rather, it is through our interactions with others that our true beauty shines — bringing the beautiful that exists in everyone from the inside out! I feel that while I don’t have a lot of “traditional” beauty, I AM BEAUTIFUL because I’m perfectly happy with who I am :)

My favorite feature about myself is my smile that almost always twinkles in my eyes.


47 Lindsay April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm

tere-Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors, and that quote is one of my favorites. I have been surprised by some of the negative discussion this ad has brought out. I have read discussions about the percentage of ethnic representation in the ad, the focus on only the outward appearance that the world has, how unfair it is that we allow physical appearance to infiltrate our views in so many aspects of life. Sure, it is marketing, and I am glad it is spurring discussions, but we will all see what we want to see. We can take the positive things we learn from the discussions and be grateful or we can focus on its own imperfections and see the ugly in it. My take, don’t be so hard on yourself, whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. Seek to see the good in yourself, the beautiful (not just physically), but sometimes the physical is easier to see. Also, it is a great reminder (like the quote) that we should get to know more than the physical side of things. That alone changes perceptions.

Along with some of the comments on getting older and dealing with the pressures of physical appearance that pervade our society, I had a discussion with a group of older German women 13 years ago. I remember it so vividly and the wisdom I gleaned from them. It was New Years Day 2000, and I had been invited to a brunch with a group of women. Most were over the age of 50, though some were single, others married, divorced, widowed. My roommate and I were both in our early 20s. They started discussing the trends of plastic surgery and how disturbing it was to them. I loved how they talked about not wanting to “hide life experience” or “diminish” the stress, heartache, challenges, etc that they had faced. They embraced their stretch marks as badges of honor, their wrinkles told of lives lived. I hope that I will never forget to keep those views of beauty. it is all about perspective, and I hope we can adjust ours toward one that is positive.


48 Colleen April 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

The topic of physical beauty and society’s focus on it has been on my mind lately as I’ve discovered the “Beauty Redefined” campaign ( and one of their messages: “You are capable of much more than being hot!” I have a two-year-old daughter and I already catch myself telling her (far too many times a day!) how beautiful she is. I am consciously trying to refocus on her other positive traits. I tell my son he’s funny and smart and witty, but I tell my daughter she is pretty. I don’t want her to think that what she looks like is the most important thing about her. It’s such a hard subject though, because physical beauty IS appealing and it IS a blessing. I just don’t want it to be her identity.

I have wide brown eyes, pretty lips, and a decent metabolism. I am perfectly content weighing 20 pounds more than I did before having my babies. I have often been grateful that I am moderately pretty without being distractingly beautiful.


49 Katie April 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Had to post again…

This reminds me of how happy my Mom and I were when there were 20 women US senators voted into Congress this past election. The most in history. I called her and we shared a great bonding moment of how far we’ve come.

Then, my Mom said … “20 out of 100. Let’s not get too excited until it’s 50.”

Dove ad…good job, but let’s keep up the good fight ladies.


50 Sara April 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I loved this video…yes Dove is a commercial company and this is marketing for them, but I have been really impressed with a lot of the marketing they have done. I don’t have any issue with it. There are soooo many terrible marketing campaigns out there with photoshopped women wearing tons of makeup and promiscuous clothing, I definitely prefer this! I struggle with focusing on my flaws, but I have long dark eyelashes, nice teeth (thanks to years of orthodontics!) and am kind and intelligent :)


51 Shannon { A Mom's Year } April 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I didn’t have an issue with the fact that this is an advertisement. We English majors have to make a living, and advertising’s one of the ways to do it. Doesn’t mean it’s not a good story. :)

Two things resonated especially with me: I felt so bad for the woman who explains that her mother told her she has a big chin. Ouch. Good reminder to be so very careful about what we say to our children. Even if we think we’re being “helpful.”

The second thing is more personal, but the friend who shared the video with me has both a Caucasian daughter and an Asian daughter, like me, and I know we both feel protective of our girls. My younger daughter has compared herself unfavorably to her older sister, and I’ve actually overheard other children comment on the shape of her eyes and nose. The kids are very young and weren’t being malicious, but of course it bothers me.

Which is all to say that what I took away was the reminder that words matter and can be remembered much longer than you think.


52 Maike April 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Okay, here is what I thought. Of course it is a commercial tactic to sell more of their product by making videos like this. The opposite of what everybody else is doing. Fair enough. I don’t mind if they mean it or not, it does definitely no harm.
But: I noticed, that all the drawn faces in the video that were done after the self-description of the women kind of looked similar. They reminded me of the cartoon portraits that you can have done in every european shopping mall for money. Do you know the ones I mean?
So I wonder, if the FBI-guy was briefed in such a way to draw – whatever the women were saying- a little bit in that style when they were describing themselves and not when they were describing others. I find them to obviously similar.
And also: I like the way I look. Could I describe myself properly? I don’t think so. I would not be able to describe my voice, my laugh, my eyes (how they look when I talk) because I do not see myself from the outside, thank God.

So this video seems to be a bit of a cheap trick to me and does not prove what it tells you to prove. Only a very narcissistic person can describe herself properly. It has nothing to do with self-confidence. That’s what I think.

Although: The point it makes: very true. We are more beautiful than we think.


53 Island girl April 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Ugh, I would definitely urge you to read that article, G:

To all of you (mostly, if not all white women) who see “nothing wrong” with that ad, try being an asian-american woman in her mid 30s who NEVER saw a minority woman in mainstream pop culture in the 70s or 80s as an example of glamour or beauty until maybe Whitney Houston came along….and that was about it. then naomi campbell and tyra, etc. but ZERO asian-american women as beauty role models. And now that I have kids, I’m concerned that the message they receive from ads like this is just more of the same old same old “WHITE women are examples of beauty.” Can’t you all see why a woman of color (and mom to 2 boys who could pass as white) would just roll her eyes at this video when women of color were shown for like 10 seconds and never once in a ‘positive’ light? Dove’s over all message is good– to love yourself– I just wish they would have been more inclusive about what examples of beauty they used. I mean, it IS 2013, not 1953!


54 Island girl April 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Ps. Oh, and I love my naturally curly hair and my uber-long eyelashes that never need mascara! :)


55 Martha April 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I love that you posted a link to your discussion of lopsided breasts, I really needed to read that right now. With breastfeeding my first, my right boob dried up at 12 months and the left kept going for another six. I’m nursing my second one right now and at four months I quit nursing on the right side. I didn’t have surgery or anything, it just doesn’t like to make milk, and when it does make milk I get lots of clogged ducts and milk blebs. I have been trying to see it as a positive and be thankful that just one breast can make enough milk! The first time around I felt much more self conscious but now I know that it is a badge of honor.


56 Amanda Robinson April 18, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Wonderful post and a great video. Although I do not buy dove products, I appreciate their ad campaign and what seems like empowerment in women. I hope that my husband, family and I can continue to empower our daughters as they will soon be entering school and will start to see differences in their classmates and themselves.


57 Alea April 19, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Several friends and I had this same conversation, though about our homes, recently. Why do we mix the good with the bad? Someone compliments a piece of furniture and you have to downplay it by saying, oh well, it’s pretty wobbly really, or something like that. We decided we don’t like to make others feel bad about what they may feel is lacking in themselves, so we downplay ourselves, or our stuff. So, does that mean we’re not fully comfortable with the gifts we have, or with how we have used our money? Can’t we just be pleased with what God has chosen to allow us to have, whether it’s good looks or possessions? It’s an interesting subject becuase it’s hard to say if it’s modesty, or in fact pride.


58 Gina April 20, 2013 at 2:24 am

Oh, my. I just have to add to this and appreciate reading so many of your reader comments! Yes, yes, yes! It is to elemental but, I think we need to say those words to your girls (and yourself – I suspect it starts with us! It’s a rare adult women I meet who doesn’t talk badly about herself and have a poor self image; even those who are wildly successful, talented, etc…I’ve been reacting more and more to this. It makes me so sad.) and let’s help our next generation! It wastes so much time, energy, negativity, joy…and takes so much away from just living, enjoying and giving — connection – this day….. I am who I am!


59 Whitney April 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

This was beautiful to watch. It definitely brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.


60 Lindsee Jo April 21, 2013 at 1:22 am

I am very petite (we are talking 85 lbs) and it makes me unique.
I have big eyes that droop a bit, and they remind me of my dad and my son.
I have very feminine, dainty hands and feet.

I love this. And who cares if it’s just for advertising’s sake–it’s still true. Women are hard on themselves. We see our flaws first–and then we compare them with every woman we meet.

We are all beautiful and our diversity is what makes it so. Thanks for reminding us.


61 kalanicut April 22, 2013 at 10:11 am

Just to add a little levity to this, have you seen the parody of the Dove campaign: How Men See Themselves. It’s a good laugh and of course brings up deeper questions about how differently men and women perceive themselves and are perhaps taught to view themselves…but it’s worth a laugh.


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