By now it’s entirely likely you’ve seen it: Dove put out an ad where a bunch of women sit down and describe themselves to a forensic artist. Then, a stranger they just met describes them to a forensic artist. Surprise! They’re not as ugly as they think they are!
Look, here’s some real talk: I do not know a single person who doesn’t struggle with body image on a daily basis, male or female, to varying degrees. And when I first watched this ad, I was moved. Of course I was — they’re paying a lot of people a lot of money to ensure I am moved. And it is, in fact, moving to see an advertisement so clearly focused on pointing out that people are often their own harshest critics, and that being hard on yourself isn’t fair. I loved that. Let me repeat: I loved that, and was nearly in tears for a good part of the ad.
I am all for things that make people feel more beautiful. To paraphrase Margaret Cho, I’m gutted by those who don’t find most others beautiful, because they’re missing out on a lot of beauty in the world. I have no doubt that the women featured in this ad did feel shitty about themselves, and might still. Listening to them describe themselves felt like… Well, like listening to myself. Can’t be too vain, here. Gotta be “honest.” Gotta play ourselves down, all the time, as if admitting that we like something about ourselves is a cardinal sin.
God, it hurt.
And then we got to the strangers, and the first stranger says, “She was thin, so you could see her cheekbones… And her chin? It was a nice, thin chin…”
God, that hurt too.
Thin, thin, thin. The mantra I’ve been repeating to myself my whole goddamn life. No part of me is thin or ever has been. My wrists, maybe? Uh?
Of course, they show the women seeing their portraits, too — the ones they described and the ones others did. And most of them tear up. I would, too. Hell, I did, too, because when I watched this the first time I was emotionally tangled up in it in a way I didn’t expect. I wanted to like it; I wanted to be moved. I was moved.
One woman looked at the portrait of herself that she’d drawn and said, “This one looks more… closed off. Fatter. And sadder, too.”
I wanted to love this ad. I wanted so badly to believe that an advertising company is using its considerable powers for good. I wanted to feel like acceptance is a thing, like at least one ad company really is trying to expand the ideas of what beautiful is and what people want to see.
Instead, I got more of the usual: Thin good. Fat bad. It triggered serious body dysmorphia in me today that I had a lot of trouble dealing with and tried to ignore or circumnavigate instead of approaching head-on.
Why are we so validated by this dichotomy of fat versus thin? Why are we so relieved when others tell us we’re thinner than we think we are, or that we’re not fat? I ask these rhetorical questions because I have answers: we equate good traits with thinness and bad traits with fatness. Thin people are friendly, open, healthy, beautiful, and good. Fat people are lazy, stupid, gluttonous, unhygienic, ugly, and bad. When you tell someone you don’t think they’re fat, what you’re usually telling them is that you don’t associate any of the aforementioned traits with them. This has nothing to do with whether or not they are actually fat.
Ultimately, Dove is trying to sell us something, and that something is a cosmetics product. Given this, I understand that my frustration is probably a little unfair, but God, am I sick of feeling alienated by campaigns promoting “real beauty” that want nothing to do with my fat ass.
If you actually think physical attractiveness is important in a relationship, you are not shallow. To make a good relationship last you have to be physically and mentally attracted to the person. I am tired of seeing people being called shallow simply because they are looking for someone attractive to them, mentally and physically.
You are shallow when physical attractiveness is the only thing that keeps you two together.
It is, however, incredibly important to examine what your personal constructs of attractiveness are, and naive to go through life without taking the time to do this — after all, certain kinds of attractiveness have been drilled into us from birth, and the images we see of what we should consider attractive aren’t organic. They’re manufactured to keep people anxious and insecure, and therefore keep them buying the products the companies that manufacture our ideas of attractiveness want us to buy.
So yes, your proclivity for brunettes or freckles might be organic, but the overwhelming resistance to the attractiveness of fat people or non-Western conforming POC is not organic in the slightest.
Just something to think about.
Fat discrimination is this poster that I have to see on the subway every day. [TW: Utterly Ignornant Fat Discrimination]
Mod add: Thin privilege is having no such analogue marketing your body type as a gluttonous, junk-food-eating nonhuman silhouette who’s so powerfully monstrous their potato chips defy gravity, careening towards their open maws like stardust towards a black hole. -ATL
Gosh knows my favorite way to eat potato chips is to life the bag over my head and have them cascade into my face. Ya know, cuz I’m fat and all.
The problem is that they never just cascade perfectly like this. If I tried this, i’d have potato chips in my hair, shirt, everywhere. False chip method advertisement.
OBEAST EAT CHAHPS
I’ve been looking for that gif my entire damn life.
Thin privilege is this series of advertisements encouraging fat people to give up on hobbies and instead use all their spare time striving to be thin.
So basically, suppress your interests and loves that…
Dude, the people who do nothing but work out are also the people who have no friends.
On a significantly less sarcastic note, THROWING OVER YOUR HOBBIES TO FOCUS ENTIRELY ON WEIGHT LOSS IS AN INDICATOR OF EATING DISORDERED BEHAVIOR, OMG?
The Sexual Objectification Checklist
1. Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
2. Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?
3. Does the image show sexualized persons as interchangeable?
4. Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person who can’t consent?
5. Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
6. Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity that can be bought and sold?
Real talk: seeing images like this really upset me. It pisses me off that in a so-called “free” and “equal” culture, we’re still seen as objects, commodities to sell products. My body is a person, a sentient being with emotions and thoughts, NOT your object.
Thanks to morphemes for submitting this terrible ad that I busted with joy.
this stuff is actually called a virgin wax… pageant moms sometimes do it for their girls, if you start waxing soon enough before the pubic hair becomes coarse (when kids are little they just have a slight fuzz) then the pubic hair won’t grow in at all.
this is a thing.
parents do this to their little girls.
this quote from Caitlin Moran sums up my thoughts quite well.
“…it saddens me that 13 year old girls are spending what little money they have on getting their foofs stripped. They should be spending that money on the really important stuff: hair dye, tights, Jilly Cooper paperbacks, the Guns N’ Roses back catalogue, the poems of Larkin, KitKats, Thunderbird 22, earrings that make your ears go green and septic, and train tickets as far away from your home town as you can possibly afford. TAKE YOUR FURRY MINGE TO DUBLIN, that’s what I say.”
That sound you hear is me punching myself repeatedly in the face out of sheer unadulterated rage.