When it comes to confidence and self-esteem, it is unfortunately true that we can be our own worst enemies. Real Women are especially hard on ourselves – we are either pushing ourselves to do better, do more, be smarter, or we are being remarkably critical of our looks, our style, our weight, our overall physical attributes. Yet we are quick to compliment the other women in our lives, and often be envious of women who are just as real as ourselves.
One company that has impressed me in recent years by the way they have tried to change our attitudes about ourselves is Dove. Through some keenly smart marketing campaigns, they have tried to get us to stop being so hard on ourselves. In 2004, they launched their first Campaign for Real Beauty. In 2010, they started a Movement for Self-Esteem. And just this past week, a friend of mine shared with me Dove’s new “See How Beautiful You Really Are” Campaign. The concept is that an FBI artist is brought in to sketch how women describe themselves; he then sketches them again as described by other women. The difference is startling. What I find the most remarkable is how much the sketches that result from others’ descriptions were much more true to life. If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to check it out here: http://realbeautysketches.dove.us
Do Dove’s campaigns make me buy their products any more than I already do? I’m not so sure. But they certainly make me talk about them more, appreciate their messages, and maybe, just for a few minutes, ease up on criticisms of myself. This particular campaign has really made me think about how we all are able to so easily see the beauty in each other, even if we seem so blind to it for ourselves.
In a somewhat related but much more light-hearted aspect of this, I have recently been paying more attention to a game so many of us like to play…I call it the “Celebrity Twin” game. This is when someone will tell you that you look like a certain well-known celebrity, entertainer, or sports professional. It can be a very amusing past-time to consider who your friend or co-worker’s celebrity look-alike may be. The old “if someone were to play you in a movie, who would it be?” fun.
Sometimes it is brightly obvious. Like “Wow, she looks JUST like ___.” Other times, it can be a source of conversation or discussion at a gathering of friends “No, I think she looks more like ___.” Even more interesting is when a total stranger will stop and say “has anyone ever told you that you look like ____?”
The reason I’ve been paying more attention to this, and perhaps it is because of Dove’s campaign, is because to me it says something about your strongest features in other people’s eyes, or a characteristic you may never have considered before to be a good thing. Because after all, I think for the most part, being compared to a celebrity can be taken as a compliment.
I have one BFF who I have always believed looks like Valerie Bertanelli; another like Kate Jackson. My sister looks like Linda Kozlowski (or, alternatively, HawkGirl according to our nephew). As for me, I’ve had a few references made over the years, and they’ve changed as I’ve gotten older. When the show Soprano’s was on, I had folks remark about my long-lost twin, Edie Falco. But more recently, and this happened again just last weekend when a Retail clerk stopped me to say “has anyone told you…” , I’ve been compared to Kathy Griffin.
By the way, this game also works well for the men in our lives. My husband’s celeb twin is Robin Williams. My neighbor could be Kyle McLaughlin. My Dad and Dick VanDyk could have been brothers. And so it goes…. It can be a bit of an addicting, fun game – you are thinking about this right now about the people in your life, aren’t you??
I don’t see this as a bad thing. I see it as another way to take a different look at the people in our lives, and most importantly, at ourselves… and rather than criticizing our features we don’t like, we are being shown a tongue-in-cheek alternative-universe mirror. And in the process, we are having to admit that we ain’t half bad. As a matter of fact, maybe we are actually….dare we utter it? Beautiful.