Flushy Pale Face: Lessons from the Dove Beauty Campaign

A few weeks ago, someone shared the Dove Real Beauty Sketch video with me. Most of you have probably seen it. If not, take a few minutes to watch.

If you don’t have a few minutes, here’s the TV Guide version. Dove brought women into seeing a sketch artist and asked to describe their looks. The man could not see their faces. He then in turn, produced a sketch.

As you can imagine, the photos were not flattering. The women described themselves as old, exaggerating their slight flaws, describing themselves in such a way that couldn’t possibly be seen as beautiful.

Here’s the twist- they also brought in people who met the women prior to the sketch. These individuals then described the women’s looks, then relayed it to the sketch artist. These pictures portrayed very different women, very different people. Gorgeous, confident, glowing women.

I recently observed a woman, probably 20 or 30 years my senior. I won’t say where. She was thin, beautiful, and graceful but she had this hollowness about her. I could see years of sadness on her face. But behind the frown lines, the lonely gaze, I saw an incredibly beautiful woman with a ton to offer.

It was incredible to see someone of such… stature… in such a vulnerable state. It made me sad, and of course, made me think about how I see myself.

Cute, I suppose, if I was being completely honest. My skin gets flushed and red easily. I desperately need my ends trimmed. One of my front teeth are chipped. I have a huge birthmark on my side that shows up when I wear a bikini.

Maybe those don’t seem like a lot to get hung up on, but if you had asked me years ago, my list would have been much, much longer. When it comes to women thinking that they’re beautiful, Dove throws out a statistic of 4%.

4%?!

The number is unfortunate, but not surprising. When I think about the things my girlfriends have told me they dislike about themselves, things I’ve told myself, that number makes sense. But how do you fix it?

One thing I’ve been very self-conscious about is my pale skin. I have a fair complexion. Friends and family have teased, called me Casper, laughed at how “I glow” in a bikini.

Over the years, I’ve gone tanning. I’ve sat out in the sun, I’ve endured sunburns and dry skin – all in the effort of changing something natural about myself. Something that didn’t really bother me until it was pointed out to me.

A month or so back, my dermatologist removed five of my birthmarks. They were tested, and one came back with abnormal, near cancerous cells. I won’t lie, I was scared. I thought of the tanning beds, the days spent laying out in my bikini. I was ashamed for not protecting my skin better.

My fair complexion, complete with bandage from my derm. visit.

My fair complexion, complete with bandage from my derm. visit.

So how do we start changing how we think about our friends, family, and heck, ourselves?

We stop with the flaws. We focus on the good. Not just in ourselves, but in others. We stop from measuring ourselves in ways that diminish what we are, what’s truly great and important about who we are.

Sure, I’m pale, but hey, so was Audrey Hepburn. My skin gets flushed easily, but I don’t need to wear any makeup. I have a chip in my front tooth, but I never needed braces.

There’s a lot of things I like about myself, about how I look. But it’s not because I’m vain – it’s because when I look in the mirror, I see more than just my own face. I see the happiness in my face, the mischievous twinkle in my eyes. That sounds cheesy, but I’d rather focus on the best parts of myself. And you know, that includes the porcelain skin.

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