Real Beauty(Light) Vs Real Ugly (Shadow)

One of the Dove Real Beauty sketches. (Picture via Huffington Post)

One of the Dove Real Beauty sketches. (Picture via Huffington Post)

I came across a video recently by Dove, yes the soapy people, called the Dove Beauty sketches. I liked the idea that a forensic artist sketched women’s’ descriptions of themselves and then did a second sketch based on the description of the same women given by another person.

The gist behind the project is that women are more beautiful than they think. Great news for all then. Not really. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it.

As my friend Sarah pointed out, “There is a downside to this ad – there ARE women who look like the woman on the left hand side – who are “ugly.” But I agree, Loretto, women are their own worst enemies.”

The word “ugly” is a very ugly word. I know my friend Sarah and I know that she means that the idea of saying this woman is ugly but you are beautiful means that some women are ugly. In other words the commercial by Dove is still dividing women, albeit unintentionally, into two camps; ugly and beautiful. Same old same old.

The New York Times shared a similar sentiment in their article, Ad About Women’s Self-Image Creates a Sensation, which mentions a Tumblr post by Jazz Brice.

Brice says, ““What if I did look like that woman on the left?” she said, referring to the less flattering sketches of the women. “There are people who look like that.”

In my mind I am both women depicted in the sketches. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have such an abundance of confidence that I didn’t struggle with showing the picture on the left. I struggled about posting the “raw” picture of me without make-up and directly after my work-out. But I saw those Dove sketches and thought I am both sketches.

Would the "real" Loretto please stand up.

Would the “real” Loretto please stand up.

The picture on the left is me after doing my 6 mile walk. I sweat like a bull, sorry but it’s true. I look like a strapping young fella don’t I? But the “real beauty” of it is I feel like I can take on the world after I finish my walk. And it is that feeling of empowerment that makes me feel good about myself.

I think we each have a bit of the woman on the left inside of us, and she isn’t ugly, she is the face we see in the mirror when we are sick, tired and just feeling blue. That’s the “Yang” of our “self.”That’s the self that makes me humble, at least I hope I am humble? The “Yin” is the part that makes me walk into my son’s school looking like the woman on the left, sweaty after my work out, and not give a crap what people think.Yin and Yang are complimentary parts that form a greater whole, “shadow cannot exist without light.”

Yes I like how I look on the right, I won’t deny that. I still think my nose is too big and my skin resembles that of a pubescent pimply teenager with wrinkles, and I could pack the entire population of China into the bags under my eyes some days, but when I throw a bit of lipstick on and add mascara, straighten my hair, put on a nice dress, I look fine. Some days there just isn’t enough time to do the make-up and hair thing.

If we all had an hour to primp and prime ourselves we could look like the woman on the right all the time. I spend 95% of my week looking like the woman on the left. And I’m OK with that. In fact I get a kick out of walking into a store looking they way I do on the left, and noticing that I get no attention. As the saying goes in Ireland, “You wouldn’t piss against me for shelter.” Then when I go into the same store all dolled up I crack up when I get attention from staff without even asking for help.

I feel like a chameleon, and I like that.

On a lighter note, here’s a satirical take on the Dove Real Sketches about how men perceive themselves.Is it true? Do men see themselves as gorgeous? Nope, they don’t. Ask 10 men and they will give you the same response as we women do. I wish I was taller, thinner, had more hair…and on and on. The difference is women have to deal with make-up campaigns that force looking younger, thinner, more beautiful and other reams of bull down our throats. So we do have two perceptions of ourselves: The one with make-up and the one without. Men don’t have that choice.


3 thoughts on “Real Beauty(Light) Vs Real Ugly (Shadow)

  1. loved this post! Reminds me of a makeover video created by Dove a few years ago…Did you see it? It’s on youtube under “Dove evolution”…..just gets to show you, anyone can look beautiful!

    • Absolutely, and also shows us that a person’s definition of beauty can be very shallow. If all it takes is a bit of make-up and a hairdryer and brush to attain beauty, sure anyone can be beautiful. My definition of beauty is being able to walk into a room looking like the wreck of the Hesperus ( and still feel confident. I have showed up to writing class some nights looking like a vagabond!!!! Writing bestselling novels all day long will do that to ya!!! 🙂

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