I get as misty-eyed as the next person watching the Dove Selfie video, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized it’s only one step up from telling girls they have to be beautiful in the first place.
I’m taking a coursera course with Dan Ariely. In the first video, Professor Arieli explains that, as you have probably noticed, he has been through some serious defacement. I hadn’t.
The guy has been burned from head to toe and has had his entire face reconstructed not-very-symmetrically, and I hadn’t noticed at first glance. Maybe it’s that I forgot to full-screen the video and I was doing the dishes as I half-watched the video. But I’m pretty sure if Dan were a female professor, I would have immediately noticed.
We just don’t care as much how guys look. At least not their faces.
I know it’s true and I know I do it too.
We value women and girls for their great looks. It is quite possible to see the beauty in every woman, and I commend Dove for their amazing work in showing us how beautiful we are. I don’t consider Unilever completely benign when it comes to beauty—but they at least aren’t selling us products to alter our appearance.
I think it’s absolutely crucial that girls love their bodies as they are—as it is for boys. But you don’t see guys worrying about it, and you don’t actually care as much. Is this something our society enforces or is it natural? In the animal world, in most species, it is the male that has to be visually impressive for the female. Did we learn this or is this a natural feature of the human species?
I don’t know, but I do think that the emphasis on looks is not only pervasive but damaging for girls and women. If you think about it just in terms of time, every moment spent putting on makeup is a moment not doing your homework. Every moment spent thinking about how you look is a moment not thinking about how to solve global warming.
Yes, it is great to help girls love themselves as they are.
At the same time, I can’t help but thinking that spending time teaching girls they are beautiful is an outcome of having taught them that they must be beautiful in order to feel worthy in the first place.