Thursday, April 25, 2013

Call Me Easy, But I Liked This

Sometimes we can learn things in the oddest of places. From a greeting card (have you seen the ones about STDS?), from the quote on someone’s t-shirt (“I Like to Fart on the First Date” <-this would be good to know), even from an advertisement (gasp!). 

Take 3 minutes to watch this if you haven’t already. It will make you THINK and FEEL, even if it is  promoting a product.

This video has gained a lot of criticism for the reasons outlined HERE. Some say that it focuses too much on external beauty (yes, it’s hard to sketch internal beauty). Some say that it makes “women their own enemies” (uh, yeah, this is often the case).

Call me easy to please, but I happen to like the video and the message. It exposes the extent that we are overly critical of ourselves. We don’t realize our self worth. We judge ourselves much more harshly than we would our best friend. Mostly, we simply do not see the best in ourselves, preferring instead to focus on qualities we deem negative.

Damn! You mean not everyone sees my pointy chin, my overgrown eyebrows, my long second toe, my uneven complexion the same way I do?

Yes, this video highlights the external features of a woman. It is after all, promoting a beauty product. In this day and age there are hundreds of ways to promote products. Some companies do it by featuring scantily clad women rolling around on car hoods eating cheeseburgers.  Some do it in a way that causes the viewer to stop and think, and might potentially have a positive impact.

I think the video is challenging us to see the bests parts of ourselves, inside and out. Period. (okay, and maybe to buy Dove soap).

The first thing I wanted to do was to show this to my 12 year old daughter. I want her to never be afraid to notice and embrace her own beauty, be it internally or externally. More than anything I want her to RECOGNIZE this beauty and not continually hold it up against some unachievable standard set up in the media.

Here’s the thing. It’s not just about failing to recognize our outside beauty. When we are asked to describe ourselves in terms of our personalities, we often veer towards what we perceive as negative: shy, controlling, nervous, spacey, anxious, pessimistic, irritable.

Some even do it with running. Often when I ask someone who they are as a runner they will say:

Out of shape


No, this ad didn’t make me want to run out and buy Dove soap. And, no I am not interested in the fact that Dove is owned by Unilver, which makes Axe and Slimfast products. I am interested in the fact that the message is powerful and universal (the last line of the video), “Why do we analyze all of the things that are not quite right instead of appreciating the things we do like?”

I ask you – what makes you feel better about yourself and your world? Putting attention on what you are grateful for and what you have to offer, or focusing on what your life lacks and what you don’t like about yourself?

Thoughts on the video?

Are you self critical? About what? Yes I am. About lots of things. Pooping on the run. Yelling at my kids. Forgetting someone’s birthday. Burning the casserole. Getting injured. Writing a stupid blog post.


PS: You have to admit, forensic sketching is pretty cool. Maybe I should do that with the rest of my life.

PPS: A male parody was done on this video. I have to say it is hilarious. See it HERE.


  1. Here are my concerns about that video:

    1) Women, by & large, are judged on their appearances. I get that that's a fact of life & probably isn't going to change any time soon, but that doesn't make it constructive (or even neutral). I see this video as reinforcing and validating the prominent place that beauty / physical appearance has in women's minds. I would rather see a message that focuses on the myriad ways that women have value and worthiness than one that reinforces a superficial one that shouldn't matter in the first place.

    2) It reinforces the idea that certain shapes & features are "more beautiful" and others are "less beautiful" (ie, a thin face is more beautiful than a round one, prominent freckles are less beautiful than smooth skin, narrow body parts are more beautiful than less narrow, etc.). I feel like this could also have some unfortunate side effects for women from races or nationalities where the features described as "more beautiful" aren't as common.

    Yes, I get that their point is "you women are too hard on yourselves; people think you are more beautiful than you think you are." But isn't that missing the point? Isn't it problematic that we put so much emphasis on beauty/appearance in the first place? I'd love to see an ad or video that addresses that.

    But you're right, they're a company marketing beauty products, and I'm guessing we're not going to see that from a company that profits from women's preoccupation with beauty any time soon. :P

    1. Yes, I see those points and others pointed them out as well. I think I like the overall message that points out how hard we can be on ourselves and that how we view ourselves inside or out, can be distorted. I think the point is also that the areas that are typically considered not beautiful (wrinkles,etc) are actually viewed as being quite beautiful by many, especially once you know the person.

    2. As far as point 1), I'm really not comfortable with a woman categorically stating what other women "should" value. I don't recognize the right of someone else to tell all women what is a valid emotion or perception of themselves. If a woman finds value in her physical appearance, then that is her own valid, personal belief system. It's always ironic to me when a woman judges other women for their beliefs under the guise of freeing women from some other, different value judgment. In other words: who are any of us to tell another human being that their values are superficial and that other values (presumably your own) are more valid? You are simply changing the judgement, but judging all the same. Why not let people feel how they feel instead of telling them that valuing X (physical beauty, good skin, strong muscles, a clean home, a loving husband, a fast marathon, whatever X may be) is "superficial" because it does not match your own values?

      And 2) I didn't see at all. Where did they say freckles or narrow body parts were less beautiful? They portrayed a woman describing a freckle or face shape as a negative, while the "observer" described the very same features as a positive. The message clearly being that a wide face could be seen as an asset or a liability depending on the perception of the person doing the viewing. Far from creating a value judgment about the feature itself, it showed that the feature was less relevant than the viewer's feelings about the feature.

      I don't see it as problematic for a woman to feel strongly about whatever she values, be it personal beauty, intelligence, physical strength, strong love, artistic talent or any combination of those and other things. In my opinion you're simply advocating yet another avenue for shaming women: this time by telling them it is unimportant or "problematic" for their natural feelings of finding value in their physical appearance. Where is the liberation in that?

  2. I saw this as just the video (no sales pitch) I thought it was amazing!! Our local high school has a True Beauty Day, where all the girls (and some guys) go to school without makeup. They don't look sloppy or ugly, they look like clean, fresh, YOUNG women. It has inspired several other schools in the area to do the same thing. You may have to start a self-confidence movement by getting girls to stop critizing/over-emphasizing the outside, then they can focus on what's beautiful on the inside.

  3. Love the video. Totally agree with your take. As far as all those Somee Cards? They'd be so much better without the nagging typos.

    1. Ugh. My fault. Thanks for pointing out!

    2. I cried.... So true in all aspects. We judge ourselves so harshly and forget what makes us special and who we are and why we are important! I don't by Dove but they have some remarkable advertising and marketing people. Kudos to them.

  4. Wow, thanks for posting, that was interesting!

  5. I assume everyone sees my faults, my physical and my internal ones. I find accepting myself the hardest thing on many levels. We can tell our kids they are beautiful forever but it's something they must gain in their own right.. Such a struggle

  6. The ecard you posted did more for me than the video. I feel like even when I have a day of that kind of confidence, I end up encountering another runner or article or something that creates doubt about the "kind" of runner I am. I want to try to turn that foreign concept into my daily affirmation!

  7. The video left me conflicted. While at first I liked the "we are our own wirst critic" message, the more I thought about it the more it irritated me - you never see ads like this directed at men. Sometimes I feel like our insecurities are only highlighted and emphasized by the ad agencies, only then to have them tell us we should love ourselves as we are.

    But then, I tend to overthink things.

    As for the someecard, that is perfect.

  8. I have to work hard at not being to self-critical. I think a combination of the way I was brought up and being a female make me overly critical of myself - I don't want to give that same message to my boys!!

  9. Personally, I loved the video and so did all the women I know who watched it. It sparked an email exchange between me and three of my closest friends wherein we essentially all agreed that our descriptions of each other would be SOOOO much kinder and more flattering than our descriptions of ourselves, and led to a lovely exchange of compliments about both the internal and external beauty we see in each other.

    I don't know why I'm still so naive that I'm surprised to hear that it's being criticized. I guess I still take things at face (ha ha) value and perceived it as simply a reminder to all of us that we are amazing just as we are and that others can see it.

  10. The video of the ladies touched me and made me cry. I totally related to those women.

    The men's video that was Fuckin funny!!! Lmao!

    1. Both videos were pretty much spot on (for better or worse) :) They actually are reflections of a conversation my sister-in-law and I had not too long ago.

      And here's the men's version for anyone interested:

  11. The video of the ladies touched me and made me cry. I totally related to those women.

    The men's video that was Fuckin funny!!! Lmao!

  12. Thanks for sharing...I liked the women's ones and thought the men's were hilarious! :)

  13. I really liked the video, and said so because I honestly believe it's terrible that we, as women, see our flaws more clearly than our beauty. Yes, my wonderfully feminist friends had to say, that Dove just didn't go far enough---stuck on physical beauty, etc. But, I would argue that we, as women, also likely underestimate our creativity, intelligence, or even, athleticism. The media and society, at large, are all together celebrating strong, smart, or even athletic women.

    It's no surprise to me that most of use aren't going to be "perfect" in all ways, but so what??? If you are doing your best work, in career, home-life, running, whatever...then you have a lot about which to be happy. Find the positive. Other people see the "beauty" of you because of the person you are...(notice they said in the video that the women had a friendly conversation with the "stranger" who described them). I don't care if Dove wasn't pushing hard enough against the idea that women are only measured by physical beauty. They were challenging us to think differently about ourselves. If you think that you're opinion about yourself isn't affecting your daughter---you are wrong. VERY WRONG.

    1. The media and society, at large, *aren't* all together celebrating strong, smart, or even athletic women.

    2. Depends on what media you follow. Lame TV media no but they don't count in my book. Track and Field, certain running mags, educational just have to read the right stuff to find "us" :-)

  14. I liked the commercial. We are waaaay too critical of ourselves, inside and out.

  15. Love the video. We are our own worst critics.

  16. person first..
    I just happen to be a woman who runs.
    A woman who is a mom, a woman who has a career, a woman who is a wife, daughter, swimmer, kayaker, adventure seeker,....fill in the blank...
    When you stop caring what you look like to other people, well, it really is liberating.

    And I really don't like the video as 1.) there were really no unattractive people in the whole thing and 2.) they knew they were on camera so it just negates everything. And it's been going around for the month of April...

    1. Yes, I know it's been going around... but I hadn't talked about it yet here. I don't think it negates anything, the message is still there.

  17. Having grown up in an environment that fostered - no, celebrated low self-esteem, I appreciate this video. It is very telling that the only time in my young adult life that I thought I was pretty was when I was looking at a picture of myself but thought I was looking at a photo of my cousin.
    I think that those who do not have self-esteem issues will be much more critical of this video than those who identify with it. I pray, with all my heart, that my own daughters would think this video is sexist and silly.

  18. Saw the video the other day. I know a lot of women that are hard on themselves. Not just about their looks, but almost everything about themselves. One example, almost every woman thinks she has a big butt, even when other women tell them not. Even when you still can't see it in a funhouse mirror. Honesty about yourself is one thing, but no need to go overboard.

    Yes, our society spends a lot of time focussing on how women look. They put an impossible standard up on every billboard, every TV commercial, almost every magazine. Those women might have been real at some point, but even that's not for sure. They sure are not real now. You can do anything in photoshop. Not to make this about the guys, but it messes with them too.

    I'm just one guy, but I prefer real women, with a real face, and a real personality.

  19. I am disgustingly self-critical. (See what I did there?)

    But seriously. I've burst into tears on more than one occasion over my complete inability to flip a fried egg without breaking the yolk. So, that's something I need to work on, clearly.

    I liked this ad at first. Then the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me. Perhaps they could have communicated a similar message by asking women to describe themselves as *people* (as opposed to how they look - like, their personality traits and so forth), and then have friends or family or colleagues describe them. THAT would have put the spotlight on our "inner beauty". But it probably wouldn't have sold much soap.

    Besides, Dove uses palm oil. I don't think an orang-utan should die so that I can have a soap that's 1/4 moisturising cream. *Angry face*

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  21. I thought the video was pretty intriguing. As far as the criticism for outer beauty, what do they expect? Are we going to have them draw our innards? "Here, this is how my intestine looks to me." No! Inner beauty is only reflected in the outer picture in this case. Get over yourself with the criticism. Everyone wants to be right and point out your wrongs.

    I think it would be great if we could switch focus to the positives instead staring down the negatives all the time.

  22. I saw this clip a few days ago and initially really liked, then less so, but never found a way to fully vilify it. Yes, it could all be B.S. It could’ve been an intentional plan to make the first drawing less attractive than the second and then wrap the results in the façade of a social experiment conveniently set in a spacious, expensive, and probably professionally decorated big city loft. But who cares? It strikes a chord because the point it is making, whether genuine or contrived, is an accurate one. People too often lean to the negative when viewing and/or describing themselves. And asking a person to describe their self physically and how they then choose to do that does reveal a lot about how their internal selves, so those discussions are lost on me. We can always find a way to sully a point when it’s an uncomfortable one, especially when it is presented in a way so closely tied to a commercial purpose. I chose to recognize that potential and then look past it.

    Women are objectified in advertising in much more offensive ways every single day but because it’s usually in such simplistic and stupid ways we’ve just come to ignore it. When was the last time we say a non-model in a beer commercial? This made people think, and they didn’t like what they were thinking. So of course, the ad is to blame.

    I’m a balding 37 year old man with a patchy beard, wide nose, a few chicken pock scars, and slow clumsy running pace.

    But I’m also 6’4”, 200 lbs of lean runner, with light blue eyes, a symmetrical face, straight jaw line, and I’ve cut almost a full minute off of that pace in the last three months.

    Draw me however you want. I’m a fan of my own work. And I don’t feel guilty about that. Everyone should be more proud of themselves.

    1. Thanks for this. I think you sum it up perfectly - and nice to have a male perspective.

    2. I love that you're a fan of your own work. We're all so self-critical, and I include me in that group.
      I try to make sure our household is filled with a sense of the old addage, if you can't say something nice, but in today's society, that's a hard sell. Everyone is hyper critcial of everyone else, and in that sense, it's impossible not to become self-critical. We strive for perfection, when the reality is, we're all perfect! Whether it be perfectly silly, perfectly spontaneous, perfectly weird (i am in this group), we all have something that hits the perfect. We need to embrace what is our perfect and make it our shining star. Even if everyone else finds it out of sync with their life, they aren't living our life and therefore should reserve judgment.
      Amy P. Philly runner.
      As an aside, I am far too hard on myself, allowing self deprecating feelings to come in when I disappoint me.

  23. Re: specifics on running: I do often totally throw myself under the bus when discussing my running. "Oh, but I'm not very fast. I'm slow. I'm recovering from a back injury, so I don't expect to do much." Instead of maybe, "I've improved my time by over two minutes in the past eight months while recovering from a debilitating back injury; I couldn't even run 1/4 mile when I started but ran 12 last week." My friend always texts me before a race, reminding me to run my own race, to leave comparison behind. It's an important reminder, one I am grateful for as I run.

    That said, I'm getting better at accepting my body, inside and out, with all of its beauty and flaws. I like myself -- inside and out -- more than I ever have, and I think that's a big step in the right direction.

  24. Maybe I'm easy too... I really enjoyed that video! I'm sure there are a hundred negative things people could say about it...just like anything else. But I'm all about the positive! There's way too much negativity in the world!!!
    It made me feel good and it sends an insightful message.
    Thank you for posting it!

  25. Excellent post. I linked it on my Facebook page in hopes many more people will see it.

  26. You know, I think the one thing that I DON'T beat myself up about is my running. It's my release from all of the self-criticism. Every run is a good run for me, no matter what.

    Even when I poop my pants.

    (Haha not really, but you know what I mean).

    This means a lot because I am and always have been a perfectionist and extremely hard on myself. Running has made me confident because I know I can achieve something despite whatever flaws I might have (physical, mental - whatever!).

  27. I loved the video-they got me hook, line and sinker!! I also thought the men's version was absolutely hilarious!!
    Thanks for sharing these, I hadn't seen either one!

  28. Great & thoughtful post.

  29. I'm such a simple person. I watched the video and was like yep, we all see yourselves for our flaws. Especially connected with the one that commented on how her mom saw her chin. We grow up hearing people say things about us and take them to heart.

    Then I see where people say how this video is a bad thing and all the reasons it's bad. I guess there is a bad side to everything but to me the message was clear, don't be so hard on yourself!

  30. I'm pretty simple, too. I liked it. The fact is, a stranger is not going to meet you for 5 minutes and walk away knowing your best internal features (you can't, for example, demonstrate loyalty or honesty long-term in a 5 minute span) but they can easily identify your external beauty. Also, a forensic artist isn't going to be asking someone to describe a criminal's personality traits - they need to paint a physical picture. Like it or not, we all have a physical appearance. Sure, there's more to all of us than JUST that but we're not going to be "that wonderful, highly intelligent, compassionate mom" to the lady sitting across from us on the bus. We're going to be "that pretty lady with the big green eyes and the cool running clothes". It doesn't completely define us but it is always going to be a part of who we are. It's just a matter of how much we allow it to contribute to our whole package.

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  32. I have seen parts of both videos and liked what I have seen of both.
    I feel that we need to concentrate on the positives and less on the negatives.

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  34. I saw the video a couple of weeks ago, and it made me cry. I think about the things that bother me about the way I look- the first things I see in the mirror (the broken capillary on the tip of my nose I call my Rudolph nose, my left eyebrow scar, how "lopsided" my face is) that other people say they never even notice... Or they peer intently at my nose from 3" away and say "oh! I see it" I thought of how I would describe myself and I envisioned what that would look like... And I know it's drastically different that what I do look like and who I AM as a person. At the same time I never try to cover it up, I don't wear make up (except occasionally fill in my eyebrow scar) I smile freely, I sneer, I laugh and I frown without thought of how it makes me look, because although I am not happy about how I look, there's a freedom in just letting it be... And when I feel ugly I look into the mirror and I see the generations of family features that are on my face- the chin from my grandmas side that looks like it could have been directly molded and slapped into the face of every baby girl in our family, my granddad's nose, that looks exactly like his mother... And like my mother. The eyes from my maternal great grandfather, looking at old family photos you see all of his sisters, his mother and him, and again my mother, have the same eyes. All pulled together I am not a beauty, but my genealogy is written on my face, I know exactly who and where I come from and I could never, and would never, change that.

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