Moar PMS-fueled rantings:
I feel like most people’s idea of good self-esteem isn’t being comfortable with ones self, it’s believing that one conforms to societal ideals – particularly beauty ideals.
Like…when I was in my late teens, people used to ask me all the time if I was a model (a fashion model, that is, not an art model) and when I’d say “Noooo, I’m not nearly skinny enough for that” they’d always get a distressed expression and start cooing at me. “Noooo! You’re pretty! Don’t be down on yourself!”
No. Stop it. Fashion models are expected to be, what, a dress size 0 to 4? Back then I was a size 10 on the top and 12 on the bottom*, ergo not skinny enough to model. Stating a goddamned fact is not “being down on myself.” I thought I had a killer bod back then; I was making a point of mentioning the standard for models so people would understand how fucked up that standard is. I wanted them to go “Wow, so if you’re thin and well-built, and the women doing runway modelling are the same height but six to ten dress sizes smaller…whoa.”
But instead everyone jumped to the conclusion that I must have self-esteem issues because I didn’t see myself as matching the official beauty standards of society.
This new campaign from Dove seems like the same kind of misguided, condescending shit to me. They labeled two doors, one with “beautiful” and the other with “average,” and got all “Nooo! You’re pretty! Don’t be down on yourself!” when a bunch of women didn’t go through the “beautiful” door.
Look, Dove. I think most of us see the word “beautiful” as meaning “conforming to society’s beauty standards.” We all know what those standards are: thin, white, able-bodied, long hair, big eyes, full lips, small nose, long legs, no cellulite, etc. etc. etc. Just because someone knows they are not white or able bodied or thin or whatever doesn’t mean they’re down on themselves.
Basically, Dove, what you’ve done here is set up a premise that a woman’s looks are super important, given her only two ways to see herself (both of which fall within the box of physical appearance being important – there’s no third option for “I don’t care how I’m perceived”) and now you’re whining that it’s just terrible that a woman might acknowledge that she doesn’t look like a fashion model. Oh noes! She’s aware that she doesn’t conform to society’s very specific standards! That must mean she doesn’t think she has any value, amirite?
Look. First of all, my physical appearance isn’t all that important to me. I’ve lived a pretty good life; been loved, been married, currently have a career I love and two-ish partners, all without looking like Cindy Crawford. I do not in fact believe that looking like Cindy Crawford would have gotten me a better or more suitable life for myself than the one I’m living.
Secondly: I’m not beautiful or average. “Beautiful” means “looks like Cindy Crawford” and “average” means “unremarkable; blends into a crowd.” I am a six-foot tall bastion of feminine awesomeness with technicolour hair and motorcycle boots. People notice me. Children openly stare at me. The word I choose for myself is “striking.”
And you can go fuck yourselves for setting up a false dichotomy and then concern-trolling women for choosing the “wrong” one. It’s not my fault you provided two limited, shitty, baggage-fraught options for everyone. That’s on you.
I’m outside your constrictive little box, Dove. It doesn’t make me broken. It makes me free.
Edit: Ha! I figured I wasn’t the only one annoyed with this stupid campaign, and I was right: http://www.buzzfeed.com/arabellesicardi/dove-makes-women-to-walk-through-doors-labeled-beautiful-or#.cyZrxLB3E0
*Which apparently is about the right range for “plus size” modelling, but I didn’t know it back then and the people talking to me were not asking me if I was a plus-size model.