A little over a week ago, Dove posted a follow-up video as part of its ongoing Campaign for Real Beauty. The most important conversation this new video fosters is not around individual physical beauty; rather, it seems that Dove has put its finger on the fact that understanding real beauty’s full scope isn’t just a personal journey. Rather, the successful recasting of the concept of beauty requires a two-fold learning process: one at the level of the individual, and the other at the level of the community.
Similarly, challenges to this conceptual recasting can be found at the level of the individual as well as at the level of the community. One of these challenges is the hesitation individual women have in acknowledging that they are beautiful. How can we ensure that instead of hesitating, we embrace our individual beauty? At the individual level, we need to constantly weed out tainted definitions included, often surreptitiously, in our mental construct of what beauty is. The use of well-known efficient tools such as mantras and journaling come in quite handy in this regard.
Those who are able to break through negative mental constructs about beauty often face a backlash at the level of the community who labels them as arrogant, superficial, and/or pretentious. A false understanding of the concept of humility combined with an inherent distaste for such negative traits keeps those able to break free from society’s definition of beauty in limbo.
This is why seeing groups of women in the new Dove video walking together through the door labelled “beautiful”, sometimes dragging each other away from the “average” one, is so powerful. These women are not just acknowledging to themselves that they are beautiful; they are acknowledging it to each other and about each other, and they are showing their understanding to the world. This represents, to me, a basic cultural shift towards a broader understanding of beauty as well as a deeper understanding of the real meaning of humility.
We have made a lot of advances in our collective understanding of what true beauty is, which will make the rest of the road ahead increasingly easier. We are understanding that beauty can be four feet tall as well as seven feet tall; it can be pale skinned and dark skinned; it can be a tiny size as well as a big size. And we are bringing it out in the open that it’s OK to acknowledge that we are beautiful and kicking up a notch the conversation about not punishing women who do so.
Something else that will make this journey increasingly easy is how every step forward unlocks doors we didn’t even know existed. Being able to set aside the mental block that keeps us from accepting that we are beautiful also helps us understand the concept of beauty not just being skin deep. It helps us understand that true beauty is the beauty of the soul while not dismissing the outer form of their beauty. And it helps us remember that ultimately, human nature is defined by the gift of having a soul. And a beautiful soul in a beautiful body is light upon light.