A friend of mine shared a Dove video on Facebook last week. I really like this friend, so I watched it. Here's the link, you can watch it for yourself before you read the rest of my post. (It will make more sense that way.)
Dove Choose Beautiful Video
I've been thinking about this video for a full week and that wasn't something I expected when I first pushed play. Why did this commercial hit me so hard?
First, it surprised me. I expect I'm not the only one who guesses she knows what is coming when I see the thumbnail of a video. For this one, I could see that women could choose a door to go through and that one was labeled 'Beautiful'. Now my assumption was that the other was labeled 'Ugly,' or something to that effect, and in a matter of milliseconds I had already put myself through the Beautiful door and went on my merry way feeling so superior that Dove didn't trick me. (Ha! I'm so much smarter than advertisers. Another commercial to get us to see that we're pretty when we use your products, Dove. I've seen (and cried) at your YouTube stunts before.) But in the video, the other door didn't say Ugly. It said Average. That startled me because all of a sudden I couldn't as easily (mentally) walk through the Beautiful door. Because I see myself as much more Average. I'm not, nor have I ever been, the kind of girl that gets noticed when I leave my house. I'm a fly-under-the-radar kind of person. I definitely don't think I'm ugly (most days, at least), but beautiful people get noticed and get free stuff and get guys tirelessly hitting on them, right? I mean, that's what the beautiful girl in movies always deals with.
And as I watched the women in the video, I could honestly say that every single woman in it was beautiful. I didn't have to force it, I just really thought they were all so beautiful. And some of the ones that walked through the Average door were really, really gorgeous. But they see themselves the same way I see myself. And then I think about all my gorgeous friends and wonder how many of them would put themselves in the Average category. Because I think I have really beautiful friends. But for some reason I have a feeling that a lot of them would think they were Average.
Now, I happened to be blessed enough to have a husband who I know thinks I'm beautiful. I know this because he says it way too often to be lying. Almost everyday for close to 19 years he has told me how much he likes the way I look. He's pretty good at telling me the other things he likes about me too, but without a doubt I know that he thinks I am the prettiest female on this planet. How would he feel if he saw me walk through the Average door? Or what about my daughter? What message does she get if she watches me choose Average? Does that start to shape her opinion of herself? (These are rhetorical questions, I know my choice absolutely affects her.)
So why would I have such a hard time choosing Beautiful for myself? I think on my best days I can take what I know to be true about what Jesus thinks about me and what my husband sees in me and what I want my daughter to think about herself and say that I would go through the Beautiful door. But I also know that I think way too much about what I perceive others think about me. And walking through the left door with others watching would be hard because what if they don't think I should go through that door? What if they think I'm too fat or short or pale to be considered Beautiful? If P!nk can be considered too fat, then who am I to dare to think myself worthy of that door?
But here's the truth. God the Creator made each and every one of us. He did not mess up because he makes no mistakes. He knows each one of his creations to be absolutely stunning. And I think it would hurt his heart to watch his creations announce to the world that they are just Average when he knows they are not. And that is not just for other people, that is for each of us. Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." And as a believer in Jesus, I am called to be free from the chains of what the world thinks. I am allowed to declare truth no matter if strangers disagree. I can confidently walk through the Beautiful door with no shame because He has called me Beautiful. And that is all I should need, plain and simple. And thank God, because according to our culture's standards of beauty, no real, non-photoshopped woman could really measure up.
Lastly, I know some of you are thinking what I was thinking before the video played, "Dove just wants to sell us stuff. It's manipulation to get us to spend our money." Now, obviously that is true. That's what advertisements are for and they wouldn't spend time and money making videos like this if it wasn't going to pay them back. But here's why I don't mind: because they are trying to sell me something by telling women that they're already beautiful, already worth it. So many other brands say something to the effect of, "This part of your body isn't good enough the way it is, so buy our product to make you feel/look/be better." They have to lower our self esteem in order to get us to buy into the promise that they will make us happier. But what Dove is doing is building us up first and then asking for our money. And if I have to watch advertisements at all, I'd prefer to watch ones that keep my dignity in tact. And that's what I'd rather the people I love be watching too. So Dove, you just keep on keeping on. I love it.