Paying attention: perceptions of beauty

doveimagesofbeauty.jpgThis week at a presentation about diversity, I got more than I expected. Sure, I knew we were going to talk about the differences between people, whether their mobility is assisted by a wheelchair where mine is not, or their background and skin color is perhaps different from my own. What I wasn't expecting is that we would also be given food for thought concerning the way we're looking at our bodies and our ideas about beauty.

Before the talk, I'd been vaguely aware of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, but I'd never paid that much attention. I recall having thought "Good for them; they're using real women in their ads." But it clearly didn't stick with me. Not until now. We saw a video I want to share with you, too. 

See other videos in the series by clicking here.

What I was reminded of is that I know the media onslaught has worked on me. It dosen't matter how many things I believe about myself that are positive and meaningful. It doesn't matter how many compliments I receive from others  - whether people who love me, or strangers - and it doesn't matter how many "good hair" days I might have. Many times I still want to look more like the women in the catalogs and on my TV screen.

But we were also shown one of these photos of an anorexic woman used in an Oliviero Toscani ad campaign during Milan's fashion week last fall. Which, in all its shocking tragedy, might be helpful to keep in mind when idealizing the models paid to entice us to buy what they're selling. This campaign is part of a broader look at the international fashion industry's use of models with a BMI less than 18.

If I want a different body than the one I have now, shouldn't it be a body I've nurtured through exercise and oxygen and the enjoyment of healthful foods? These are the thoughts I'm thinking this morning.