Not everyone is beautiful. Despite the recent self esteem campaigns that assure women that their flaws are figments of their imaginations, not all women are good looking in reality. So it is fortunate that outer appearance is not as important as these campaigns would lead us to believe.
One of the better know self-esteem campaigns is The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which aims to “challenge beauty stereotypes” by encouraging women to realize and appreciate their natural beauty. Research done by Dove reveals the generally negative attitude women have towards their own appearance. The statistics they found include that only 2% of all women would describe themselves as beautiful. The campaign was originally launched in 2004, and their more recent videos, Dove Real Beauty Sketches, focus on how women tend to find themselves less attractive than how others perceive them.
Although Dove’s ambition to heighten women’s self esteem is a valid cause, their method does the opposite by reducing women to their physical appearance. The problem identified by this campaign, insecurity due to a negative physical self-image, is a problem, but the solution is not to place even more importance on external characteristics. By going to such lengths to assure all women that they are beautiful, even when that may not be the case, Dove makes beauty seem like both a necessity and a virtue.
Freshman Skills Day, a peer advice program at LGHS, has started shifting away from a focus on physical appearance for this reason. The self-image branch previously concentrated on how to maintain a healthy body and body image, and has now begun to restructure the program in order to focus on having a generally healthy self-esteem that is not focused on appearances.
Junior Adam O’Reagan, the liaison for the self-image branch of Freshman Skills Day, says “We’re trying to move away from focusing on the body part of self-image. Instead, we’re focusing on how you perceive yourself throughout high school and how to set goals for yourself. We realized that talking about managing your body, like how to weight lift or eat right or look good, could potentially make freshmen feel self-conscience about how they look.”
Instead of reassuring women that they are universally beautiful, it is important to remind all people, not just women, that appearances should not control confidence. As most people, especially high school students, balance a significant part of their self-esteem precariously on top of their physical appearance, we must remind ourselves that we can say about ourselves what our appearances cannot.