real beauty

Dec 6, 2009

Recently, my niece Andie was here visiting and she shared with us some videos that Dove has made to spread the message that real beauty is within each of us and that the stuff we see on magazines, billboards, and TV is completely fake. I loved these videos and they really taught my daughters that what they are seeing is not real. I have told them that a million times, but it wasn’t until they saw this video that showed how a billboard photo was created that they really understood. The second video is pretty graphic and shows some a lot of skin, so be ready for that and watch it yourself first before you share it with your husband or children. It shows how strongly the message of “you need to diet, cut, lift, dye, wax, remove, add, soften, firm-up, endure, sacrifice, and spend” to be beautiful is fed to our children (and us!) every single day in America.

It is amazing to me that with as little exposure as my children have had to the world that it is still an issue in my home. I have a daughter who believes she is fat! She believes her thighs are ugly! My experiences and long discussions with her have taught me that we must be extremely proactive in teaching our children what real beauty is and in undoing the brainwashing that they are going to get every time they walk by the magazine rack at the grocery store (and even in the conversations they hear us adult women participating in!).

Many studies show that women are depressed in America. I think there are loads of reasons for this and one of them in my mind is that we are “surrounded and inundated with media that constantly bankrupts a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth with advertisements that promote cosmetic surgery and anti-aging products. It is very difficult for the average woman to accept, love and value herself in a society that continuously bombards her with messages of being inadequate and not-beautiful-enough to be a valued member of society.” (taken from here). It is very common for a girl or grown woman to only hear compliments about her physical appearance and not about her mind, her talents, or her character. And if she isn’t receiving compliments about her physical appearance, perhaps she isn’t receiving any compliments at all. If the world is feeding her the message that physical appearance is all that matters and then the pictures they put up of the ideal physical appearance are impossible for anyone to reach and are photoshopped far beyond reality, then is it any wonder that women feel like they don’t measure up?

The most beautiful woman I have ever known was my grandmother, who was always overweight, but was happy, giving, funny, smart, sincere, and loving. That is what makes real beauty and it is the beauty I want to have. I want my girls to understand that who they are on the inside will determine how beautiful they are on the outside. I want them to know that the changes their bodies are going through are wonderful and necessary for them to be able to have children. I want them to see their bodies as gifts from God. I want them to see my sagging breasts, stretch marked thighs, and non-flat belly as the marks of motherhood – that I have this body so that I could have them and that I don’t regret it at all. I don’t need to change it or needle it or cut it or anything it. I do need to take good care of my body and be a good steward over it. I do need to exercise and eat healthy food and get enough rest, but not so I can look like anything or anyone, but so that I can have health and strength to do the work God has given me.

Watch the videos, make a plan, talk to your daughters, and create beauty, real beauty, in this world. We can make a difference in the lives of girls and women everywhere.

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  1. Anne

    Once again, you are “write on!”
    Love what you have to say and love how you say it — with conviction, with research, with passion, with respect.

    Proud mama

  2. I love these videos too! What a great post, Tracy!

  3. jessica

    I fell in love with Dove’s campaign for beauty several years ago — it’s too bad that they are owned by UniLever, a company that markets the kinds of things they protest in the Dove campaign. Still, I think the movies and the messages and commercials are fabulous. When they came out, I remember being with people who had visible, visceral reactions to the real women they used in their ads. I was taken aback! These were real bodies, and people were affected adversely. We’ve been schooled to want to see smooth skin, few wrinkles, youth, etc.

    Anyway, here’s another video: It’s not as good, but what I find interesting is the guy at the end says something about how if you worked out all the time maybe this could be attainable… are you kidding me? He lengthened her face, changed the bone structure in her cheekbones. Yeah, 6 days a week at the gym isn’t going to change THAT.

    • tracy

      Another great video! Thanks Jessica! Kez and I just watched it together and she was amazed at what they do. It really disgusted her to see all the changes that are made to photos.

  4. Robin

    We have enjoyed blowing the fashion/beauty industry lies out of the water. I call my children around, including Devin, and show them clips, pics, etc. We discuss at great length what reality is and what REAL beauty is. I feel it’s vital.
    Normally I don’t shout from the rooftops, but I was introduced to something called “Dressing Your Truth” by Carol Tuttle. I know I told you about her energy profiling before, but this is the next step. It is becoming a great tool in my life. Carol blows every fashion myth out of the water. She addresses plastic surgery, modesty, not buying the new spring line just because someone, or some great company is pushing it. She helps women, and girls, learn how to identify their own natural movement and how to live true to that energy/movement that we all naturally express. It’s truly amazing. I follow her blog and have enjoyed her frankness and brutal honesty. She’s great!

    • tracy

      Thanks Robin! I will check out “Dressing Your Truth” when I get some time this week. You are doing great things with your children!

  5. Sally

    I needed to hear this today. Thank you Tracy! Yes, a 30 year old woman who is happily married with two beautiful kids, still struggles with body image sometimes! I think it’s me being newly pregnant, and feeling sick all the time, makes me somehow feel inadequate in all other areas, too. I wish my Mother had built me a stronger foundation growing up, so I didn’t have to face these monsters as a youth, and still struggle with them as an adult. You’re doing a wonderful job.