Can You Answer Dove’s Newest Beauty Ad Question?

Photo: shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Typically, attempting to answer the myriad of questions that plague my brain on a daily basis, is an overwhelmingly arduous task. Inquiries include, though not limited to:

1. What should I eat for dinner? An uncertainty that lingers in my mind all day, until ultimately I settle for whatever’s in the pantry, aka PB and J, and can be cooked in less than five minutes, as I’m obviously ravenous and suffer from a severe case of “hangriness.”

2. Am I going to the gym today? And what excuses do I have that can convince myself otherwise? Oh, I forgot to make my bed? I clearly don’t have time, maybe tomorrow.

3. Can I shower before work after pushing my third alarm “snooze?” Nope, so get up! Okay, maybe just five more minutes…

4. Is it too late for another cup of coffee? A resounding “yes,” always tries to convince me to avoid the side effects of an overindulgence of caffeine. Temptation usually wins, however, and persuades me to pursue my quest in search of the nearest Starbucks: venti, blonde roast, black, please.

Yet, perhaps, even more challenging is tackling a question that is uncommonly pondered (i.e. not food related). Dove’s Campaign for real beauty releases a new ad, asking women to answer one seemingly simple query: what do you love about your body?

[Insert pregnant pause here]

Can you answer this? According to Dove’s video, the women featured respond unanimously with perplexed, awkward laughter and silence, accompanied by “hmms,” shrugs, and “umms.” They react with a pure inability to provide a single response and yet, when asked the same question in regards to a friend, no hesitation.

Dove’s message pertains a somber truth—we often have negative, hypercritical perceptions of our own beauty, and it’s the rare woman who has learned to accept and love herself, her body, as is.

Admittedly, I could write epic poems about the beautiful qualities my friends attain. And sadly, an even longer narrative about all of my physical flaws— legs, too muscular,(just ask Mark, who called me “thunder thighs” all of 10th grade) cheeks, too chubby, butt, too round, nose, too narrow (also an observation learned by said kid). These are consuming thoughts that often appear in my game of: if you could permanently change one thing about yourself what would it be? Another question that proves strenuous to answer, yet because of the contrary, its plethora of options.

But, here’s the issue, while I do find Dove’s ads beautiful, heartwarming, pleasurable to watch, I also have a hard time believing that women can’t deliver one single feature they love about themselves. The video could easily be edited to omit those answers, focusing solely on the loss of words people often feel when put on spot. Or, perhaps the silence stems from fear. Would society ridicule them of excessive vanity were they to respond with a positive physical attribute? I think the awkward glances show how each woman would be more inclined to respond if their friend spoke up first.

It’s also important to remember that while Dove is promoting the theme of “real beauty,”and positive body image, they are also a business selling beauty products, products that mask and negate the very concept of all natural, or “real beauty.”

In spite of the hypocrisy, the ad definitely makes me ruminate over the way we perceive ourselves and how we are all in desperate need of more self confidence.

I can answer the typical questions that deluge my thoughts, nonchalantly, in spite of the dramatic contemplations my mind entertains. My dinner will likely consist of canned veggies and peanut butter in some form, I will probably squeeze in the gym since I was productive and showered before work this morning, and I guarantee I’ve not yet seen my last cup of coffee today.

What do I love about my body? Well, honestly, we have a love/hate relationship and the answer varies day to day. After five years of braces, I kind of like my big teeth (is that weird?), in spite of Craig calling me “rabbit” until middle school. My favorite color is green, possibly stemming from my eye hue, and today I like my collarbone, mostly because I think, in general, they are elegant (and I am not).I also want to rephrase Dove’s question to: what will I always love about my body? Because (for me, anyway) the only possible answer is the purest form of real beauty: my brain.

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    • elle

      Hmm…Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about this. If someone just randomly came up to me with a video camera and kind of shoved a microphone in my face and asked me that I’m pretty sure my initial reaction would be nervous laughter and awkwardness. And it’s true woman aren’t supposed to compliment themselves. I don’t know why but it’s true- just think of Mean Girls: “you’re really pretty” “thank you” “so you agree that you’re really pretty?”. I also think that I couldn’t really answer that question on video because I would agonize over how random people on the internet would respond-this girl like her hair? Worst hair ever, way too frizzy. She likes her skin? All her pores are magnified etc. But that’s probably just my insecurities
      Tl;Dr: this ad campaign sucks for so many reasons.

      • Lindsey Conklin

        the mean girls reference is SO true. and you’re absolutely right, I wouldn’t want to be scrutinized based on my response! UGH

    • Meredith Hirt

      Love the conclusion. I’m strangely proud of my feet, but for a reason that is probably in opposition to this whole “love yourself” thing: because people always remark about how tiny they are. Guess I should work on that, huh?

    • La

      When watching the video, I found I could easily name a few things that I love about my body, my flutist hands, my boobs, my curves, my round eyes, but then I realized that for every one thing I love, there’s something I don’t, my fat limbs, my cellulite/stretch marks, my weird-Grecian-statue-man nose. It made me realize that loving half of your body, just the stuff you like, doesn’t count. The important part is embracing your flaws, learning to love the other stuff. The hard part is loving both “halves” the same.

    • Dana G

      Lindsey – this is so good. This is such a good reminder for all women. I wanted to end this with, “Lindsey you are beautiful inside and out, so don’t forget it” but that just negates the whole topic–of course we can find things to say about friends that have great qualities. Instead, its making me reevaluate and be thankful for my own “imperfections” – my pale skin, my thunder thighs, and everything else that makes me, well me! Thanks :)