You know that Dove Campaign that everyone loved for a hot second before everyone hated it?
This one, where the artist sketches a portrait of a woman based on her own description of herself, and then sketches another portrait based on how someone else describes her? And the self-portraits are inevitably harsher than the others? The point being that, hey! You’re more beautiful than you think!
It’s a great little promo…with a lot of problems.
I’m only going to brush on one of the tiny ones, here.
I was having a discussion about this with a friend of mine about this. “I’d write about it,” she said, “but I’m too unique-looking.” At the same time, I was typing, “I’d write about it, but I’m too cookie-cutter.”
In both cases, we assumed our feelings were invalid. Because of who we are.
And that’s kind of what Dove is saying. What you think is invalid. Look at how wrong your image is when placed against other people’s thoughts about you. Maybe you should think like them.
Meaning the solution they are providing is a bandaid. It’s a way to work within the set parameters women have been given as boundaries for how they’re allowed to feel about how they look.
What we really need to do is forward that message, push it further. Break down the conventions of beauty. Understand that because someone’s genes gave them a look that’s more conducive to praise in our modern society, it still means nothing. Understand that the only way to put everyone on equal footing is to thoroughly reject that image of beauty. Understand that how we feel about ourselves is valid and is a result of several societal factors working for and against us. Understand how we are a piece of this puzzle, not to better fit in (as some ads would have you do, like Ideal Image Laser Hair Removal, for instance), and not to see how other people do think we fit and therefore begin to believe we should think that too (like this Dove commercial), but to make a new puzzle. To make it out of Playdoh. So that it can move and shift and grow as we do, as individuals.
In the end, it comes down to caring about what people think. And on that note, I’m bracing myself for the barrage of comments telling me that 1) I’m not pretty. 2) I’m an asshole for even trying to talk about it. Because that’s what I’ve been raised to believe happens. I’ve been raised to believe I do not have the right to talk about this. Because I think I’m pretty.
But I tried anyway. Because I’m confident.
And that’s where we need to be. Confident. Have belief in yourself, regardless of all else.
I passed the GRE yesterday. I studied for two days over the weekend. I can’t believe I passed.
But I did.
So now I get to go to grad school.
Wait, wait. There’s a moral to this story.
So many times, as parents, we feel our entire selves being sucked away by life, adulthood, our responsibilities, the cleaning…dare I say it, the children.
Who are we? What do we stand for? Where do we want to be? We only have so much time on this planet. What are we going to do with it?
And when the answers to those questions don’t come, and instead we are faced with five loads of laundry and two squalling children, the weight of it can seem too much.
All of our carefully laid plans fall to the wayside. We get pregnant again, or someone gets laid off, we lose all our money, we never had any money, whatever. It doesn’t matter what happens to us, we tend to internalize it and we think, ‘this happened because I’m not working hard enough, I didn’t plan well enough, I don’t think things through, I’m a dick.’
This is such dangerous thinking, and it’s almost inevitable. How many times have I felt this myself? I yell at the kids, or I’m too tired to clean the sink, or I’m not making any money even though I’m working my tail off. It’s all because I suck, right?
Only not at all.
Be strong. You don’t suck. You are amazing. You are doing things that only you can do. Life is not a day. Life is not two months. If you are suffering, if you can’t get out of bed, if you feel you’ve failed yourself and your family, just hang on. Just another day, another week. Hell, just hang on another year. As long as it takes. And don’t do it alone. If you are depressed, if you are sick, if you are just frustrated about everything, anything, reach out. We are here, we are all here. Ready and willing to help, to tell you about how wonderful you really are, and how much you will actually accomplish.
Take a chance. When you can, take a break. Look around yourself. You created this. Sure, it’s a mess, and it smells like bad milk (okay, that’s just me. My kid spilled her milk on the carpet and never told me. I’m still trying to find the damn spot.), but it’s yours.
And it will get better.
You have to keep going. When you don’t make it as a huge blogger, when you don’t make it as a huge novelist, when you don’t make it as a huge producer, when you don’t make it as world’s best parent ever (fill in your own blanks there). You just have to keep going.
Start now, start today. You don’t have to *do* anything. You can just look at your surroundings and understand that they exist because of you. And you’ve done a really good job getting everyone this far.
As parents, the weight of the world is on our shoulders. There’s a lot of pressure. You can do it. Just one more hour, minute, second. Every moment that ticks by is another moment you’ve won.
You’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve made extraordinary children. And there’s so much life left.
** Dedicated to several who are having a very hard time right now. I love you.
I love myself. I’m confident, talented, accomplished, correctable, spontaneous, and happily contented. It is NOT A BAD THING to love yourself this much. This problem now a days is that people DON’T love themselves. Oh, they think they are confident, but most are covering up their insecurity. How do you tell the difference between the two? Count your number of friends. Depressed people cannot last long with happy people. Fake people are never friends for very long; eventually their true colors come through. Therefore, the smaller the number the more chance that you ARE real, and love yourself. First comes insecurity. Next comes pride, which is followed by a humbled fall. Next comes healing. Lastly comes the accepting of yourself. When you love yourself, you become less sensitive, you let go of yourself, you give more because you are already full.