Is beauty bad?


Has anyone been following the Dove campaign for real beauty?  It does a great job at encouraging women to feel good about their bodies, despite their weight, as it celebrates women’s individuality.

But when I glance at the half dressed women posing for the camera….well I am not at all inspired!  The ad lacks sex appeal, completely without the precious ‘fantasy’ element that I search for in the world of beauty…. but hey, if it works for you, I will not YUK your YUM.

I only bring it up because I just re-watched an old Dove ad on You Tube that is re-circulating on Facebook via Upworthy.  The video’s sole purpose is to put fear into every mother’s hearts, declaring that if you let your daughter gaze too long at beauty magazines, she will almost certainly become anorexic, depressed, or generally fucked up by the time she is a teenager.  Why?  Because the big bad beauty industry will ruthlessly tell your child that they must look like a photo-shopped model with flawless skin, lengthy lashes, firm rounded breasts, iron flat tummy, and endless bronzed legs.

Having worked in the beauty industry for 15 years, I take some issue with the message that we are out to corrupt our children.  In fact, I can assure you that as I develop beauty products, I am not thinking about how to mess with my kid’s self esteem.

I’m thinking that we are all imperfect and thankfully there are solutions to many of the imperfections we choose to address. I spend much of my time searching for peptides that help soothe wrinkles, natural acids that brighten tired skin and chemicals that will stimulate collagen production. I do this because I never give up hope of finding a solution.  Nor should anyone else. And furthermore, I believe that we should never stop trying to improve ourselves. In personal development or in product development. In beauty or in life.
But but but, at the very same time, we should also be grateful for what we have in life. We should appreciate that we have the right to choose how to look and how to live.  We should appreciate that it is because of yesterday’s feminist and courageous women that we have these choices today.

I believe that Dove is linking the beauty industry to self-confidence and suggesting that the women who are most affected are the vulnerable youth of today. Yes, I understand and can appreciate this fear. Being young once myself, I remember the pains and pressures. But I do not remember magazine ads making a huge impact on my psyche. I was far more concerned with my classmates, my peer group and my own experiences.

Self-confidence comes from many places, namely your upbringing. Some of the most insecure women I’ve met had harsh or thoughtless mothers who regularly insulted their appearance. A child’s self-confidence is a very vulnerable thing indeed. It can be battered and easily bruised.  But as good parents, we hope that we can provide a solid enough base for our children to stay strong as they encounter external forces.

IMG_0676 (2)My daughter is being brought up in the real world, where there are rich and poor, skinny and fat, eccentric and conservative.  She has a mother who spends lots of time trying lotions, masks and make up. She is constantly surrounded by beauty and fashion. And I can only hope that I have brought up a child who is smart enough to not feel envious at a skinny, bronzed, flawless model.  I believe that my daughter instinctively knows that beauty lies in the seed of a dream.

Thank you for reading,