The Truth About Our Beauty: A Response to the Dove Video

Grace Ebach

You are your own worst critic.

I’ve heard that phrase my whole life, mostly from my own mother. But I never believed her, until I saw the “Dove: Real Beauty Sketches” video that Ms. Hennessy sent me a couple of weeks ago.

The video, for those who haven’t seen it, features an artist who brings in women he hasn’t seen and asks them to describe themselves to him in as much detail as possible. He sketches them and brings in the next person to repeat the process. The trick about this experiment is that he asks the second woman he sketches to describe the previous woman he has just drawn (the two women meet each other for a few minutes in between sketches). It’s sort of confusing, but just watch it if you’re still confused by the end.

Later, when he puts the two drawings side by side, the sketch of the woman described by the woman herself is always considerably more ugly than the one described by the woman who had met her for a few minutes.

This brings about a question that many women (and men, for that matter) never really consider: why are we so hard on ourselves?

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve always been critical of my appearance because I’m constantly afraid that other girls are judging me more than I am judging myself. So, as you can imagine, this video was a complete wake-up call for me. But it seems that I’m not the only one it was a wake up call for. The response at Latin was quite large.

A close friend of mine, sophomore Caroline Chu, eloquently told me, “It made me realize how many times I look in the mirror and only focus on what I don’t like. I thought it was amazing how the descriptions that other people gave looked a little more like the actual subject, and how the words they used were so much kinder.” She also said, “I think it would be really interesting – and kind of scary – to see a physical representation of the way I picture myself,” something that I wholeheartedly agree with.

With that being said, it’s scary that we think this way in the first place. Why do we feel the need to be so hard on ourselves? It’s not like we need to describe ourselves as beauty queens, but we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to Shrek either.

As much as I’d love to be the feminist of the day and say something profound and inspiring as an answer to this question, I don’t have one; I am harsh on myself everyday. I look in the mirror and think, ‘Well, you look like a drag queen today’ and then people at school say, “Oh my gosh I love that eyeliner color!” I spend way too much time putting on makeup and brushing my hair and putting on disgusting sparkly lotion to make sure that I’m not the one getting laughed at when it comes time for a photo op. But do I have to? Now, that’s a question I can answer: No. I absolutely don’t have to.

Thanks to the wonderfully accepting community that I believe Latin is, I guess I don’t have to worry everyday, and perhaps I shouldn’t. Will I stop? Maybe. Can the entire population of Latin stop? Probably not. But at least we’ll have this – as senior Laura Barker puts it – “sweet and sobering experience” to help us see that we are even more beautiful than we think.

You are your own worst critic, but you don’t have to be.