Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Your" Beauty Isn't Yours (anyone who says differently is selling something)

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches took Facebook by storm last week:



filling my newsfeed with passionate comments about how TRUE it was and how all our daughters needed to see this.

I have some thoughts.


Baby Jack posing with some rival soap.

1. This is an ad for soap.  

2. There are things I like about it.  Specifically, that other people are often a lot easier on us than we are on ourselves.  My favorite part was the very end, where the women are embraced by the people who love them no matter what they look like.  

It made me think I'd love to see one where our children describe us.  Not that they'd create lovely sketches of us, I just think it would be funny to watch.  They wouldn't be kind and gentle like the strangers were . . . they'd just be perfectly honest, because our kids DON'T CARE AT ALL if we fit any sort of cookie-cutter definition of beauty.  I'm beautiful to my children not for how I look at all, but just because I'm their mom.

Which brings me to my main concern with it, which is that it seems to me to be a terrible idea to define ourselves or gain our self-worth by what we happen to look like right now.

3. Beauty is a transient thing in general, and YOUR beauty was never for YOU to begin with.

Consider that God did not make us able to see ourselves.  He made it so others can see us, but we can't see ourselves. 

Consider that for thousands of years everywhere and in many places today, most people could see themselves only reflected in water or in some other imperfect way.  And I don't think anyone but Narcissus considered it especially important to happiness. 




Because YOUR beauty is not for you.  And I'm going to talk to women here, because this ad was made for women, but I think it applies to men also.  My beauty is for my husband.  It attracted him to me.  That's what it was FOR.

It was never for me.  It was never intended to be something I would dwell on, or base any sense of self upon, or even think about.  My husband was attracted to ME, for how I looked as well as for my personality and my perceived future ability to tell funny stories about horse meat baby food.

Like sexuality, beauty draws men and women together.  And as with your sexuality, your beauty is for your husband, not for your own use or gratification.  AND like your sexuality, your beauty fades and goes away.  Before your marriage does.  Before your love does.

As husbands are reminded in Proverbs 15:18-19 (before it takes a PG-13 turn!):

Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19     a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

No matter how beautiful I ever was . . . God willing, I will live a long life with my husband and children, and my beauty will fade away.  But my husband will remember the girl that he married, who was just the right beautiful for him.  And my children never cared a bit what I looked like to begin with. 

I'm certainly glad to learn that strangers would be less critical of my perceived faults than I would be, but I still think we all have SO MANY more important things to base our self worth on.  And those things are more lasting and more critical to my happiness.

Now, this isn't to say that I don't try to look pretty for my husband and pulled-together for the outside world.  But really, that's what it is.  I try to dress in a way that shows my husband that I'm still trying to impress him every now and again.  And I try to present myself to the world in a way that makes people think, "Well, she managed to brush her hair and put on a bit of makeup and some clothes that are pretty stylish and mostly not covered in spit up . . . so I guess it's okay that she has all those kids."  Because, honestly, I think that's how it works.

But I make an effort NOT to dress in a way that would make it appear that I'm trying to be sexually attractive to people who are not my husband.  If my sense of self-worth were tied up in something as silly as whether *I* think I'm beautiful, I don't see how that could be the case.  Since beauty is utterly subjective and based on personal preference, I would HAVE to constantly be trying to attract people physically.  And I'm not, I'm just trying to look like I'm up to the challenge that is my particular life.

Which is officially the weirdest intro ever to What I Wore Sunday, hosted by the lovely ladies at Fine Linen and Purple.







View: San Diego (we're at my parents' house this weekend)
Dress and sweater: Anthropologie
Espadrilles: Naturalizer
Necklace: Lava beads from Pompeii!

I feel like I "know" most of the people who read my blog, either in real life or because you have a blog of your own, so I've read all about you.  So, allow me to say to you all that maybe you are more beautiful than you say, but you're also better in other ways which are more lasting and important.  You have wonderful children and exciting adventures, you have inspiring successes and cautionary (and hilarious) failures and THOSE things, unlike your beauty, you get to keep right to the end.

Happy Sunday everyone!

p.s. 10 geek points to anyone who "gets" the title of this post . . . 



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21 comments:

  1. Beautiful thoughts and a lovely outfit. Have a great Sunday!

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  2. "I'm just trying to look like I'm up to the challenge that is my particular life." Best line! Something similar has been on my mind a lot lately so it was nice to read it here! Thanks for your interesting perspective on this popular add.

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  3. Princess Bride reference FTW!

    I love your take on this. Also, I want that dress. :)

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  4. You bring up some great points. I was wondering what it was about that ad that was bugging me. You said it beautifully!

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  5. Thanks for the beautiful reflection!

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  6. I don't even have children, but I agree, it would be great fun to watch their descriptions.

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  7. I love your reflection on that Dove beauty ad...it is so true! That ad was kinda bothering me as well, and I think you nailed why.

    I love your red dress..so pretty. And, you guys look like your are really HIGH up. Cool perspective.

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  8. As you wish. :)

    Absolutely beautiful outfit and view - can't ever go wrong with San Diego...

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  9. I saw a comment you left on another blog post about the Dove video, and I wasn't quite sure what to think. Now that you've fleshed it out here, I better understand and also agree with you!

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    1. Thanks Anne, I was worried I hadn't worded it very well on Bonnie's blog.

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  10. Beautiful outfit, beautiful reflection. I didn't really care for the video, and I'm glad someone could put it into words. Happy Sunday! I loved all the Italy posts!

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  11. I love your reflection about the ad...spot on!

    Oh and I have to mention- have you seen the parody of it for men?! So, so funny... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8Jiwo3u6Vo&feature=player_embedded

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  12. This was a wonderful post, and I've never thought about it this way. Thank you!

    I do agree that in this world that tends to frown on motherhood and children (at least any more than two per family), it's important to make an effort to look somewhat "pulled together" when you go in public, if only to serve as a witness. To show that children don't actually ruin your life and make you old before your time, as many people believe...

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  13. It's easy to think that looks are only superficial. But our families are a witness to the world. What could be worse way to advertise big Catholic families (or homeschooling) than looking wacky (or acting crazy) in public? You told me once that you remind your kids before going into public that people will be watching them, so they should be on their best behavior. It's a good reminder for us all to behave ourselves - and remember to check in the mirror every now and then!

    And, come on, give us all a little geek credit for PB!

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  14. I laughed out loud when I read your title. I just watched a princess Bride last night for the first time in a dozen years.

    This was so beautiful and timely. It really showed a side of the video that I found lacking.

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  15. Kendra,
    Thank you...lovely post.
    I esp love and agree wholeheartedly with your closing statement:

    I feel like I "know" most of the people who read my blog, either in real life or because you have a blog of your own, so I've read all about you. So, allow me to say to you all that maybe you are more beautiful than you say, but you're also better in other ways which are more lasting and important. You have wonderful children and exciting adventures, you have inspiring successes and cautionary (and hilarious) failures and THOSE things, unlike your beauty, you get to keep right to the end.

    and I so wish I was closer logistically to my blogger friends b.c I'd LOVE to get together over tea in my kitchen!! I would love that in person time b.c I so enjoy rdg about/ learning from my blogger /online friends.

    Thanks for this, kendra...
    xoxo
    Chris

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  16. Someone beat me to "Princess Bride" as I have watched the movie many. many times with you and your sister. As I am at the stage of "beauty fading" it's nice to remember that people love you for who you are and not what you look like. The grandkids think my extra skin is something to play with and grandad remembers me as the 24 year old he met out at Miramar because he still loves me....bless the Lord. God made up all so we are beautiful in His eyes.
    Nanacamille

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  17. This is great. You were able to put into words what I was thinking when I watched the commercial. Love it!

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  18. Coming late to the party here (so thanks for linking to it in your "best of" post), but I could not agree more with all that you said. I'm not terribly impressed with Dove, except to be impressed by their shrewd marketing director. It is a fantastic way to sell all of their soap/shampoo/personal hygiene products to make women think that Dove is the company that loves and accepts them just as they are--because it put them in their ads. I dunno. When they choose to show a "real woman" who has loose flappy skin, a "real woman" who is missing teeth, a "real woman" who has tons of stretch marks, or a "real woman" who doesn't shave her bikini line, legs, or underarms in their ads, then I'll be a bit more impressed with their verisimilitude in advertising. The fact that they show some plus-sized models who nevertheless seem to have any cellulite, stretch marks, dimpled thighs, or any of the things I see in the mirror after a shower just doesn't impress me with their "reality" as an advertiser. Okay, mini-rant over. Thanks for posting about it!

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  19. Just read this for the first time. So true, thank you. I agree 100% with "Now, this isn't to say that I don't try to look pretty for my husband and pulled-together for the outside world. But really, that's what it is. I try to dress in a way that shows my husband that I'm still trying to impress him every now and again. And I try to present myself to the world in a way that makes people think, "Well, she managed to brush her hair and put on a bit of makeup and some clothes that are pretty stylish and mostly not covered in spit up . . . so I guess it's okay that she has all those kids." Because, honestly, I think that's how it works.". Fashion and makeup are fun, but its so important to keep them in perspective. and it is perhaps unfortunate but true about what the world thinks of us and our many children. I have always remembered a line a woman said to a group of mothers years ago "I want to make motherhood look good". (Thanks alexandra!)

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