Sometime last week, I had the rare opportunity to watch a few moments of Good Morning America while getting ready for work. As I sipped my morning coffee and waited for the Deals n’ Steals portion of the show, I caught a brief segment on the Dove Real Beauty Sketches experiment. This segment immediately caught my attention because of the powerful message it stood for.
Dove has managed to portray the drastic difference in how a woman views herself and how others view her in a very real and blatantly obvious way. Dove took various women and placed them each alone in a room set up with a chair and an easel with a curtain separating the two. A man whom they didn’t know (a FBI Forensic Artist) sat behind the curtain and asked each woman to describe their physical attributes, and he drew them exactly as they described. The woman then left the room and a stranger, whom had only just met the woman in the waiting room, came in and was asked to describe her, resulting in two final sketches– the self described image, and the stranger described image. The final reveal was astonishing!
The two images were often so different, it appeared that a different person was described all together. The stranger’s description (on right) consistently portrayed a happier, prettier and younger more approachable looking woman, whereas, the self described image (on left) was usually much less attractive and hardly resembled the subject at all.
As I reflect on this demonstration, I can’t help but wonder how my own image would turn out. I try to have high self-esteem, but like all women, there are a few aspects I would gladly change. If I had participated in this experiment, would I describe my eyes as tired and aging, or would I focus on my slightly crooked but bright smile? What’s more scary, in my opinion, is not how my own image would look, but what would a stranger see?
I, like most women, am far too tough on myself and I tend to tear myself down because I believe others will spot my flaws and imperfections, but this experiment confronts this thought and depicts exactly the opposite. In this experiment, the strangers never noticed the winkles, moles or tired bags under the subjects’ eyes. Instead, they noticed kind blue eyes, and beautifully high cheek bones. In fact, as a rule, we are usually pretty generous when describing someone else. We almost always notice things about them that we envy, whether it be accurate or just a reflection of something we dislike about ourselves.
Kudos, to Dove for producing such an amazing illustration, proving how warped a woman’s self image truly is! I urge you to write down 5 things you love about your face and tape them to your bathroom mirror and the next time you feel like TLC’s “Unpretty”, take a minute and remember that Christina Aguilera thinks “You are beautiful, no matter what they say…” (haha! I couldn’t resist!)