A lot people have been sharing the most recent ad from Dove in which women are faced with the choice of entering one of two doors. Above the door to the left is the word, “Beautiful.” Above the door to the right is the word, “Average.”
The ad is beautifully filmed with what seem to be interviews of real women talking about why they chose to walk through the “average” door, rather than the entrance for “beautiful” people. By the end of the ad, more and more women choose to walk through the beautiful door. In some cases, they grab a friend or push someone else through the door, helping other women to see their own beauty. Helping them to choose beautiful.
I will admit that I cried when I watched the ad. I do appreciate the message that Dove is trying to send. All women are beautiful, whether they fit into society’s definition of beauty or not. We should all choose to see ourselves as beautiful… And of course, you should also know that Dove sees your beauty. Dove believes all of us are beautiful, and therefore, we should all use Dove. (Yes, you can hear my sarcasm in those last two sentences.)
At the same time, the ad irritates me. I get that we’re all supposed to see our inner beauty and believe in ourselves and simply choose to believe we’re beautiful. But it’s the whole idea that being beautiful is THE most important thing.
If we don’t choose beauty, there’s only one other option. “Average.”
Let’s face it. Some people have more outer, natural beauty than other people. I have struggled with this my entire life. I’ve never been a person that others immediately describe as “beautiful.” That’s not the first word that is going to come to mind when someone is looking for me in a crowd. And believe it or not, I’m OK with that.
Sure. It does seem that life would be easier in many ways if I possessed more external beauty. People are attracted to beautiful people. They want to be around them.
But I also wonder if it’s ever a challenge to possess a large quantity of outward beauty. Is it more difficult to be seen for who you are, rather than how you look? Once you’ve come to rely on beauty to help you through situations, is it harder to see that beauty fade as you get older?
I don’t know, but that’s not even my main point. Why is beauty the most important defining characteristic for women?
What if women had more choices than just those two: beautiful or average?
What if women felt it was just as important to be “intelligent,” “athletic,” “funny,” or “creative?”
What if women didn’t believe that the most important thing in life was to preserve our youthful face or try to perfect our bodies? What if we could accept looking the way we are, even accept our bodies the way they are. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s important to try to have a healthy lifestyle, and I completely admire people who are extremely physically fit. If God has given you the desire to be above average physically, then I definitely think you should pursue that! But I also believe it’s OK that not everyone chooses to put in the time and effort to produce a better-than-average body.
We all have the same number of hours in the day, and we all choose different areas of our lives in which to grow and be better. Just because I’m female, it doesn’t mean my main pursuit is to look physically attractive.
Does society respect women who are improving their minds by reading or writing or studying for a PhD, as much as we admire people who are beautiful? Do we think as highly of women who are pursuing their love of art or design or music, as much as those who spend long hours perfecting their bodies?
And here’s the thing. Whether your greatest asset is good looks, a great body, talent, brains or athletic ability, we all continually strive to hold on to those gifts as long as possible. But all of them will eventually start to fade as we grow older.
So what if spend our time choosing something that goes even beyond that? What if we were given the choice to walk through doors with words like, “kind,” “loving,” “hopeful,” “happy,” “loyal,” “faithful,” or “generous.” Those are the kind of attributes that can actually increase with age.
Maybe that’s what Dove means by the ad. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that when they ask us to “choose beautiful” they are referring not only to our physical appearance, but our inner beauty, as well. But let’s face it, the connotation with the word “beautiful” is always there.
My hope is that women would know there are more choices. There are more than just two options when you are deciding which door to choose. You should definitely choose to grow in your talents. Choose to be better than you were yesterday. Choose to use the gifts God has given you. But don’t just choose beautiful. Choose to be more of YOU!