Let’s stop redefining beauty and start redefining what matters.
Celebrating “real beauty” once or twice a year with a size 10 cover model or a star without makeup in order to sell more magazines or make noise around an ad campaign has been a growing trend. Dove kicked it into overdrive with their Real Beauty campaign and recently this video about young girls and selfies.
With the help of Upworthy and other positive news sites, diverse images of beauty are getting more and more popular. For instance, a recent Aerie lingerie campaign featured models in their underwear sans Photoshop. These women are still professional models discovered by the traditional beauty industry, but hey — let’s recognize baby steps.
The message of campaigns like these is pretty simple: “redefining beauty.” And for a generation of girls and women that have constant, easy, immediate access to media, it is great to see diverse representations of women on the rise.
But why is being beautiful so integral to being happy? In the Dove Selfies video, no value is placed on what these girls think, do, or create.
They solely discuss their appearance – something the girls have little control over.
I don’t see many videos for little boys telling them they’re handsome just the way they are, because appearance is irrelevant to what a person can do.
Men may not have as much negative pressure from the media, and perhaps these positive videos are just working a balancing act.
However, it seems to me that if the majority of both our positive and negative conversations focus only on what women and girls look like, aren’t we just supporting the damaging opinion that women aren’t worth much without beauty?
Sara Omary is a semi-recent grad from UC Berkeley in Marine Science and Environmental Politics who loves very little more than she loves pizza and the company of her cats.