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.