Too often, as we age, we lose the ability to be filled with awe by the most simple things that surround us, and seeing beauty in its pure state is slowly stripped of all its magic and replaced with doubt, fear and cynicism. It has to fit in a box, have meaning in the proper context and be absolutely practical, of course.
I think the biggest ruse that women try to sell themselves, and each other, is that WE are aging naturally. While some of us are 'maturing' better than others, my belief is that after a certain age most women are actively doing their personal best to slow down father time -- they're just not telling anyone about it.
Every so often, I like to remove a luxury in my life for a few days, weeks, or months and see how it affects me. I never want to be too dependent on anything. Whether it be my television, cellphone or eating habits, I like to change it up a bit and see how my body, mind and soul react to it. I wear makeup to hide my flaws.
I was recently at a beauty-related event where models were used to show off the product. Most of the models there were of the fashion variety -- very tall and extremely thin. I've always pondered on why it is. After all, the models there were present for beauty demonstrations, whether it be hair or make-up, not there to show clothing.
Boundaries are breaking down all around us. And this new wave of feminism we're experiencing has impacted many of the boundaries in the world of fashion too; the idea that there are standards of beauty that we must conform to, that being beautiful is a feeling that should be available to only a few privileged few, rather than something every woman should feel, from both inside and out.
Dove has been down this road before. Previously, they ran some ads with chubby ladies in underwear talking about how much they loved their bodies. I found those ads powerfully patronizing, as I find the "Beauty Sketches." It is as though women need to have their emotions managed and protected all the time.
As I clicked the link and started watching the video, I started to feel a slight sense of discomfort. The message that we constantly receive is that girls are not valuable without beauty. My primary problem with this Dove ad is that it's not really challenging the message -- it just makes us feel like it is. It doesn't really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is. Don't let your happiness be dependent on something so fickle and cruel and trivial. You should feel beautiful, and Dove was right about one thing: you are more beautiful than you know. But please, please hear me: you are so, so much more than beautiful.
I initially connected with Jennifer Ettinger through Facebook some time ago and was intrigued by her work that focuses on helping women find their inner beauty. Ettinger's drive stems from her struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and having been bedridden and overweight. Today, she is the founder of Fit Your Style.