Do you always think you’re not pretty enough? Not thin enough? Not good enough?
When the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” video went viral, women were weeping in front of their computer screens across the globe. “While watching it, I kept thinking, ‘That’s me!’” says Anne H., a college sophomore.
Rinna B., a pre-school teacher, shares: “It was touching. I cried. It's true—I have a poor image of myself. I don't think I have good looks.”
Mom of two Kathy Wu shares, “The Dove video brought tears to my eyes because it hit close to home. I saw myself as well as my friends in it, both in the role of the woman who can't acknowledge her own beauty as well as the role of the woman who easily finds the beauty in others.”
The phenomenal Dove Real Beauty Sketches video documented FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora creating composite sketches of seven women who were hidden behind a curtain, using their self-descriptions as the basis of his drawings. Before the sketching session, each woman was asked to spend a short period of time with a stranger without being told why. Zamora then drafted sketches from the stranger’s depictions. Most of the sketches drafted from the stranger’s point of view showed a more beautiful, happier, and amazingly, more accurate portrayal of the women than the one based on their own description—driving home the point that when it comes to how we look, we are our own worst critics.
Says Wu, “I don't know why it is easier to for us (women) to appreciate someone else's physical traits and to focus on our negligible ‘flaws’ that, more often than not, exist only in our minds. Is it because we've been taught from such a young age to be modest, and that bringing up anything positive about ourselves or our achievements is ‘mayabang’? Have we been conditioned to reject compliments until not only has [our negative view] become second nature to us, but we have also started believing it as the truth?”
Also read: Look and Feel Younger
The fact that so many women relate so closely to the Dove video tells us that the biggest beauty pressure is the pressure we put on ourselves. Indeed, we are more beautiful than we think.
The good news is, there seems to be a noticeable shift in how women perceive themselves. In a recent survey, Yahoo! Philippines asked, “Do you think you’re beautiful?” Out of the 4,676 people who responded, 70% answered yes—representing an overwhelming boost in confidence among our readers.
One video might not be enough to change our perspective entirely, but it’s a great start. Here are more ways to embrace your beauty and shush the nega vibes:
Affirm Yourself Daily
Apples Aberin, Unilever Head for Personal Care shares, "Dove Beauty Sketches garnered over 7M views in only three days because the theme is something that every woman, especially Filipinas, can relate to. We Filipinas tend to be hard on ourselves. We tend to see ourselves from a less than ideal point of view when the truth of the matter is, we are all beautiful in our own special ways."
Let’s start by liking the woman we see in the mirror. Smile at her. Watch the wrinkles fade, the blemishes overshadowed by that wide, wonderful grin and the glow in your eyes. Recognize your beauty, and allow it to shine.
When you feel a bout of negativity coming on, literally tell your mind to shut up. It might also help if you have a mantra you recite to yourself every morning, like this one from Wu: “I am a magnificent, powerful, joyful and eternal being. All of life flows to me and through me with grace and ease." Wu says, “I would love it if more people, not just women, said it to themselves. It really can affect the way you see yourself and life's challenges.”
Also read: Get Instant Confidence Boost!
Learn how to take compliments
When we recognize our own beauty, it becomes easier to acknowledge compliments from others.
Pinays in particular seem conditioned to reject affirmation—“Hindi naman…Binobola mo naman ako…” In our attempt at modesty, we are basically telling ourselves we don’t deserve it. Learn to graciously accept compliments. Believe in what people have been telling you all along.
Also read: Handling Peer Pressure
See stumbling blocks as stepping stones
Even if we do acknowledge our beauty, there will always be things that we’re insecure about—thunder thighs, acne, an embarrassing stutter. Instead of beating up ourselves about it, we can view our shortcomings exactly as they are (no exaggeration!), and be pro-active.
Set goals: use that bit of insecurity to inspire you to care for yourself better, strive for improvement. Notice how you start to stand taller, move with more assurance, and basically feel better about yourself with every step closer to your (reasonable) ideal. Turn those nega-thoughts into fuel for fabulosity.
Also read: How To Feel Empowered, Again
Spread the good vibes
We’re all in this together. Recognize the beauty in the women around you, and be genuine and generous with your affirmation. When you think to yourself, Wow, she looks great today—say it out loud! Your seemingly simple comment might just be what someone needs for a boost of self-esteem. Be inspired by Dove’s mission of creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. Start the cycle of positivity in your own circle.