If you want a good kind of cry today, check out this new video sponsored by Dove called "Sketches." It features a project in which the beauty product company hires a sketch artist, the kind who usually puts together composites of criminals based on witness description, to draw women per the women’s own descriptions of themselves. He’s separated from his models by a curtain, so he never sees them.
Then, the artist draws the same women based on strangers’ descriptions of them. You see as the conversations shift from protruding chins and skin discolorations to shining eyes and nice cheekbones. You also see that the resulting sketches are sadder, chunkier — and also less accurate — when based on the women’s own descriptions of themselves.
Kudos to Dove for continuing what they’ve called their “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which is based on the radical notion that advertising can be good for the world — and can still sell us lotion and bodywash without making us feel badly about ourselves first. This is one more piece of hardcore proof that our media messages wear women down, and that The Beauty Myth is real and destructive. Of course, it’s also important to note that Dove’s parent company, Unilever, is hardly guilt-free in the fraught beauty industry. But this video and this project are certainly forces for good.
Watch it here:
Hollywood.com correspondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of Sexy Feminism and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, due out in May. Visit her online at JenniferKArmstrong.com.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong
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Audrey Hepburn is so much more than a movie star and fashion icon — she is the embodiment of human perfection. Poised, elegant, classy, and witty, she was an aspiration for women the world over. But, as is revealed in the May issue of Vanity Fair, Hepburn didn't find herself beautiful.
Vanity Fair spoke to Hepburn's son Luca Dotti about his late mother, and he revealed that Hepburn considered her appearance "a good mixture of defects." "She thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast," Dotti says. "She would look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.'"
So body image issues, it turns out, aren't relegated to the 21st century. That being said, Dotti recounts that his mother had a great sense of self. "She was always a little bit surprised by the efforts women made to look young," he says. "She was actually very happy about growing older because it meant more time for herself, more time for her family, and separation from the frenzy of youth and beauty that is Hollywood. She was very strict about everybody’s time in life."
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While Hepburn looked at herself in the mirror and saw "a good mixture of defects" rather than the stunning woman we all remember from the movies — and who, immortalized with her pearls and cigarette holder, hung on the wall of every female college student's wall — she was okay with that.
It's ironic that the attribute that Hepburn disliked in herself — namely, her slight frame — is the very thing women today often strive for. Hepburn came by her slenderness naturally (rumors of an eating disorder are just that) and considered it a fault, and yet women starve themselves to achieve her look.
I think there's something we can learn from Hepburn here. No, not that skinniness is a flaw — it's not — but that, whether you see it or not, you are beautiful. I know, it's a sappy old cliché. But if Hepburn, one of the most gorgeous women of all time, couldn't recognize her own beauty, who's to say that you aren't being overly critical of yourself when you look in the mirror?
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[Photo Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images]
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