How Do We See Ourselves? Dove's Real Beauty Campaign

breast cancer inspirational images,,

When I had FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers), my dear friend Elizabeth Messina photographed me. She said, “I’m your good friend and a professional photographer. I don’t know what the f-bomb else to do for you.” When she proposed the idea, I thought not about the photographs themselves, but that it would be a great opportunity to spend time together. I mean, really, if I had actually been of sound mind and thought of seeing photographs of me while I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair, I would have said no way, Jose! But – thankfully – I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Here’s the thing: during treatment, when I looked in the mirror, I saw breast cancer, mutilation, chemotherapy, radiation, scarring, illness…need I go on?

However, the images that Elizabeth produced of me – non-photoshopped by the way (because I asked!)- were extraordinary. She showed me that even though I saw myself as a sick, bald skeleton, that underneath the disease and treatments, I was still me. There was no – absolutely no – greater gift or Silver Lining that I could ever have received in the world!

This reminds me of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign. Have you seen it yet?  I’m sure that you have, considering millions – literally millions – of people have seen it. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most powerful ad campaigns that I’ve ever seen. So powerful, in fact, that I forgot it was even an ad campaign after the first 2 seconds.

Please – whether you’ve seen it or not – take the time to watch this video. I’ve seen it time and time again and want you to have the pleasure  of watching it and reflecting…

Powerful, right? The video stopped me dead in my tracks. The lesson – it seems to me – is that people tend to fixate on their imperfections. I know I always have.  I recognize that this is a commercial, but nevertheless, this video highlights the real and often unspoken insecurities among women, myself included.

My huge takeaway is to not only change my perceptions about myself, but to teach Suddenly Seven to be happy in herself and not worry about conforming to an idealized beauty. The only way to teach this is by modeling (on the runway of life) this behavior for her. This will be one of the greatest Silver Linings that I, as her mother, can give her.

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  1. says

    Thank you for posting this. I'm going to repost and send to my 2 daughters. It was only when I was about 45 yrs. old and had had a lot of therapy that a transformation unexpectedly took place. Went to my car after therapy and feeling magically transformed, pulled down the visor mirror. I felt so different, I was curious about how I looked. Wow!
    For the first time I saw myself as really beautiful and, also, kind looking. I had a picture taken that night. I looked pretty, softer, and happier! Still feel that.
    Today, I have 4 grandsons. I'm going to try to educate them about how to look "deeply" at a woman, or at the moment – little girls. So far, my "gentleman" lessons have been a lot of fun!

  2. says

    I have seen the Dove Beauty sketch campaign before, and it makes a powerful statement. It is sad to see how women underrate themselves, and that strangers can describe more clearly the woman's persona. It is because our personality and inner beauty show on our faces. It is what others see of us.
    I think your friend Elizabeth with her photography talent did you a remarkable service; in that she made you realize that your beauty shows through despite the enemy, FBC.

    • says

      She did indeed, Carolee. Her photography was such a gift (& Silver Lining!) that helped me get through the horrendous FBC treatments!

  3. Kim C says

    I've never seen this. It's a universal message and I agree we can help our daughters by being confident in our own skin – scars and all. In our society, it's obvious there are many, many opposing messages coming at young women every single day. At the very least, I'm happy to say my daughter's buy magazines on travel, literature, music and skip those on beauty and celebrity. As mother's, all we can do is try. I'll pass it on to my three daughters. Thank you,

    • says

      Beautifully said, Kim. And how wonderful that your daughters gravitate to travel, literature and music. Happy (belated!) Mother's Day!

  4. says

    Yes, I saw this video earlier on. It's moving and heart-breaking. We are far more beautiful than we realize. I hope many, many women see this short film since I know many, many women will relate. That's why programs like Look Good Feel Better are such a great help during cancer treatment. It's a reminder that we are lovely, and cancer can't take that away from us.