The Eyes That Behold The Beauty
So, there is this Dove ad that went viral which I absolutely love. Strangely, to me anyway, it has received a lot of flak for the manner in which it challenges women’s concept of beauty.
As women, as human beings in general, our concept of self is relative. For women in particular, the idea of (self) image is wrapped in endless negative conations. Google ‘women and self-esteem’ and you’ll see why I say that. The notion of self is such a complicated thing, it is all the bits and pieces that make up the individual that is you. What Dove did with their choose beautiful campaign, goes right to the heart of the issues of women and our concepts of beauty, and it was a simple way to make women cognitive to how they see themselves. Sure they could have put up a few more options to choose from, but how effective would it have been to be presented with 20 different options of how you see yourself? It started a conversation, one that is clearly, much needed.
Some would say the choices that the women made were influenced by the fact that they knew the cameras were on them. Um, yeah, knowing someone was watching my decision would have influenced my decision as well. In the same way that I would post a picture of myself on social media that I like the most or how I would want someone to compliment my new hairdo that I was unsure about, because I decided to be a little daring this month. It’s because I know people are ‘watching/looking’. There’s nothing wrong with seeking others approval – a healthy identity actually depends on paying careful attention to what others think of us. But it is what I see when people aren’t watching that matters.
And if the notion of self is so complicated, the way in which we define it will be as equally complicated. What is beautiful to me may not be beautiful to you, and what is average to me may not be average to you, based on how we define these terms. Choosing to ‘be/feel’ average one day doesn’t reflect how I feel and choose to be every other day of the week. These things are wrapped up in so much more than just external features. My behaviour, my relations, and my experiences all influence how I feel. Do I still consider myself as beautiful if I have been a complete B* to my sister? Probably not because my behaviour doesn’t reflect (inner) beauty. But yet I can pitch up to work dressed to the 9s and the world would see me as beautiful. If, however, I had gone out of my way to do something nice for her, that feeling of bringing joy to someone else’s life would make me feel beautiful.
So in essence, this is the lesson that I have taken from the campaign: that beauty is relative and how I choose to define it should not be (purely) based on how the world sees it. More importantly to be careful not to box myself into the definitions of how others see me. The world is already such a complicated place to be in and I don’t need the added pressure of being a diamond trying to fit into a pentagon hole. The eyes that behold the beauty I see are mine and the words that define it are written by me
Tebogo Masombuka is a Business Editor currently working in the science and technology industry.
She was born and raised in the city of Pretoria in South Africa’s Gauteng Province. Tebogo attended the University of Johannesburg where she became a BA Hons Communication Theory graduate; a very fitting qualification as she has an immense passion for development communication and the empowerment of women.
Tebogo is a woman of greatness because she strives to inspire women not only through her words but with her actions as well. She is an aspiring writer who is inspired by the plight of self-actualisation. She spends her spare time engrossed in content that focus on the multifaceted woman and living a life of purpose and excellence.