Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Perception of Beauty

I did actually watch the Superbowl. Well, actually, the Superbowl was on and I hung out in the company of good friends and family and mostly paid attention to the commercials. I even learned about how if the ball breaks the invisible force field of the goal line, even in the air, it's a goal. I konw there's a more footbally way to say that, but I don't care that much.

Commercials: some good, some godawful. One of the best, for me, was the Dove commerical, featuring young girls and their insecurities. You can view the commercial here. Young girls, each beautiful in her own way, unsatisfied with her appearance because society tells her that in order to be beautiful, one must look a certain way. A girl who probably weighed 90 pounds, standing in the self-defensive posture of a 12-year old, with the caption "worried she's fat."

I could go on and on about my views on this, but I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with my daughters last night. I was thinking about the commercial and decided to have a chat with my girls, ages 4 & 7, about beauty and what it means to be beautiful.

I asked the 7yo: Name somebody you think is beautiful. After going through the entire family, of course, she comes up with her friend Skylar. OK, I say, tell me WHY Skylar is beautiful.

7yo: Because she likes to play with me, and she's nice.

Ooooh, proud mama moment.

I ask the 4yo: What makes somebody beautiful?

4yo: A nice dress.

Me: OK, what else might make somebody beautiful?

4yo: A crown.

So we proceed with the discussion of how beauty comes from within and a supermodel can be ugly if she's not nice or compassionate. I say a big fat person with frizzy hair and crooked teeth can be beautiful if she cares about people and is kind.

7yo heartily agrees with me. 4yo is silent, thinking.

I'm afraid that she's thinking that if a big fat person with frizzy hair and crooked teeth has on a nice dress and a crown, of course she's beautiful.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful is a mother teaching her children what beauty really is.


12:37 PM, February 07, 2006  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

OMG, that's priceless. But she's right, you know -- who DOESN'T look more beautiful with a crown? (To a 4-year-old, the crown supplies the beauty. To an adult, the crown signals a wicked sense of humor, which itself supplies the beauty.)

I was moved by that ad too. Of course, the whole Dove real-beauty campaign started off with an anti-cellulite cream, but let's leave that aside since Dove wasn't hawking that particular cream in the commercial featuring the kids (thank goodness!). In spite of that fact, I think the real-beauty campaign does more good than harm because regardless of what it's selling, it shows real female bodies. Research shows that exposure to normal-sized and plus-sized bodies makes viewers feel better about themselves, so, as Martha would say, it's a good thing.

BTW, I agree with Chrisskins. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- you're a cool mom.

12:44 PM, February 07, 2006  
Blogger Kate said...

Hahahaha!!!! I love that.

I asked Danny one time if a certain little girl he rode the bus with was pretty. He thought about it for a minute and said: "She tries to be as pretty as she can. She wears lots of pink sparkly shirts and stuff like that." LOL.

1:29 PM, February 07, 2006  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

oh Ruth, this post is so great. why do I feel like crying? You're a great mom and your daughters are growing up beautifully!!

5:50 PM, February 07, 2006  
Blogger Atreau said...

Having been fat all my life I've always had issues with my image but then you come to find out that those who we think are flawless think they themselves are flawed.

I think it's so important to discuss what we like and don't like about ourselves.

I was teased all the time for being fat and hated it. I used to think "If I were thin, nobody would tease me!"

I honestly believed this, until my very thin younger sister told me that she was teased every day for being too thin and having big lips.

Everyone has insecurities and everyone gets teased for something.

10:12 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger cjblue said...

It's true that we all have insecurities and that everybody gets teased for something. It becomes a problem when we begin to believe that the things we are being teased for are the most important things in life and that we need to change them. Some things we can change, some we can't. Weight is a big issue for me too, although I look back at my high school days when I thought I was "fat" and I *wish* I was that weight again! My challenge is to not focus on body image and to project a positive self-image so my girls can too.

My sister was teased about frizzy hair and big eyes. My brother (now well over 6 feet) was teased for being the smallest one in his class. My other sister - the "cool" one - turned to drugs and alcohol, finding herself in a rehab facility at the age of 14. I was the shy, quiet one with no fashion sense and little care about my appearance.

I agree that it's important to discuss what we like and don't like about ourselves, and to either try to change the things we don't like or accept them. But I think it's FAR more important to shift the focus from appearance to character traits.

I have no belief that this will happen in society at large, but if I can raise two daughters who truly believe that it's nice to be groomed and put forward a good appearance, but that what really matters is WHO you are and what you do, then I will feel that I have done my part in bettering the world in which we live.

10:10 AM, February 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Sistah.

12:00 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Trina said...

I love the commercial, your post, and all the replies! I'm enough of a sap that the commercial brought tears to my eyes. You're such an awesome mom for talking to the kidlets about this, and I appreciate that you shared it! Mwah!

5:16 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger mireille said...

*hearts; r ♥

7:09 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Fulltiltredhead said...

"if I can raise two daughters who truly believe ... that what really matters is WHO you are and what you do, then I will feel that I have done my part in bettering the world in which we live."

A heroic effort, and one that I applaud you for! And thanks to Dove for the affirmations, too. Nice to see some advertising that isn't about tearing us down.

1:43 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Bubbles said...

I, too, appreciated the commercial and posts. I have disliked myself for quite a long time mainly because I am fat, have a gap between my teeth, or whatever. It's no way to live a life. I'm happy thinking your daughters will grow up thinking they are beautiful and seeing the beauty in everyone.

4:05 PM, February 19, 2006  

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