Honestly, I Want To See You Be Brave

I’m sure unless you’ve been avoiding the Internet or living under a rock, you’ve seen this video:

It’s nice, right? I think it’s a nice idea. Women traditionally always see themselves as less-than, partly because society has made us less-than. It’s a nice way to remember our worth. It’s got nice music, it’s tear-jerking, and it tells us a truth about ourselves – that we’re inherently afraid to see our own beauty, and even more, often we can’t see it.

And I don’t want to take away from the real emotion women I know have experienced by watching this video. Everyone I know has said to me at some point, “I don’t feel pretty.” We look at ourselves critically constantly. I’ve been known, when people who say, “I think you’re beautiful,” to reply, “Oh, thanks, but I’m just having a flattering day.” I often can’t see or believe that I’m beautiful. I’m so used to seeing myself as problematic and ugly.

So yeah. It’s a nice idea and it’s addressing a truth about all women (and some men) that I know.

But there are inherent problems. (Right? I wouldn’t be writing this if there weren’t.) My friend Anne over at the Belle Jar has pointed out some of them. Dove is owned by Unilever, who wants to sell products in any way possible. Dove doesn’t care about if you care that you’re beautiful. They want to sell you products. And as a marketer, yeah, they do. And they’ve found a very clever way to do it. But the thing I want to address today is not the manipulative marketing, because others have done that for me very well.

See, my worth isn’t tied up in how I look. And Dove, by the very virtue of their “Real Beauty” campaign, is preying on my society-trained thoughts and making me, and other women, think that the only way we can be beautiful is if someone draws a picture of us and tells us so.

No.

I have had enough of looking for validation from the masses. I’m a fat woman and I’m not conventionally beautiful. I’m never going to look conventionally beautiful. You know where my worth is? It’s in my mind. It’s in my voice. It’s in my talent. And it’s in my honesty and caring as a person.

So here’s what I want to tell you, all of you who might be reading this, all of you who can’t see this stuff in yourself:

I want to see you be brave. Sara Bareilles released a single today called “Brave”, and the title of my post is taken from some of her lyrics. I want to see you be brave. I want to see you break free. I want to see you find your own worth that isn’t tied up in your looks. Because Dove is right –  we do need to see our own beauty – but we don’t need to look in a mirror to do it.

We are people who have incredibly opportunities to be loud! We can scream at the top of our lungs, all our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and beliefs. We have social media. We have blogs. We have the tools to show off our worth. And as people in the world, if we don’t tell people about our worth, they’re never going to believe it.

I don’t want to see you realize your own superficial beauty. You know how to do that. We all do. Whatever you have to do to find it, you do it. I’m going to stand back and tell you even when your eyes are full of sleep or your hair is a mess or you feel ugly today that you’re beautiful every day. You can count on me for that.

What I want to see is you standing up and finding your inner beauty and bravery. To me, that’s what real beauty is all about. And I like the video I linked at the end of the post better than the one I linked at the beginning.

Dove, you tried, but you can’t crush women back into depending on society to tell us we’re beautiful.

Because honestly? We’re going to show you we’re brave instead.

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  One thought on “Honestly, I Want To See You Be Brave

  1. April 23, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Thanks so much for this post. My whole life has been dulled by constant feelings of inadequacy in the looks department, and now, in my 40s, I’m finally learning to appreciate myself and realize my own worth. I love your straightforwardness, and, while you actually look lovely in your picture above, I’m not going to rush to reassure you of it. See, I am not a conventionally beautiful woman either–short, chunky, utterly average in the face–and I am aware that most people are so uncomfortable with hearing that said out loud that they will immediately fall all over themselves to reassure you that yes, you are indeed suitable for the eyes of society, because we all get brainwashed to think that’s the only thing that’s supposed to matter to a woman. Well, to hell with that idea. I’m through with it too! Time to be brave. :)

  2. July 2, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Thanks for sharing “Brave” and Sara Bareilles. My 11 and 13 year old daughters enjoy their ipods, but the rule for downloads is the music must be age-appropriate and positive messaging. We’re always looking for more musicians to add to the playlist. :)

    I agreed with your assessment of the Dove ad. In fact, it left me so very annoyed I no longer purchase their products.

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