Thursday 9 April 2015

Sorry Dove, This Is Why I Won't 'Choose Beautiful'

The Underlying Flaw in Trying To Make Women Believe They Are Beautiful

Splashed across every newsfeed, timeline and profile this week, it's been almost impossible to ignore Dove's new 4 minute virality-ensured, 'empowering' PR stunt - their Choose Beautiful campaign which sees unsuspecting members of the public suddenly faced with the unexpected choice of whether to continue their path through a doorway titled 'Average' or one titled 'Beautiful'.

Much to the whole world's ardent surprise, the emotive music begins, and 98% of the women are seen electing to choose the 'Average' door, before, lo and behold, the clip reaches the 2 minute mark, the music changes and suddenly women are transformed by the infamously inspirational power of soap to be brave and tug one another through the 'Beautiful' door. Smiles and hugs all round, congratulations, another win for feminism and Dove's reputation soars as women across the globe tearily share it on their profiles and tag all their mates.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to be a cynic.

I appreciate what Dove have been striving for since their 'Campaign For Real Beauty' movement in 2004, when they made the decision to only use 'real women' for their adverts. The general premise is an overwhelmingly positive one, and anything which encourages humans to embrace and love their bodies and themselves is something which deserves to be shouted from the rooftops. 

But there's is something about this campaign which rubbed me the wrong way.

Beautiful or Average.

I believe, regardless of context or inference, there is fundamental damage in asking a woman, or anyone, whether they consider themselves to be either a) beautiful or b) average and nothing else in between. 

Being average is NOT the opposite of being beautiful. 

And it is CERTAINLY not all there is.

The spectrum of beauty is so extraordinarily comprehensive, as is the criteria of objectively 'being average' - so how could they possibly ask people to choose which one, without explanation, and attribute it to this overall hypothesis that most women don't think they are attractive? Or think they have little worth? 

I'm average at basic arithmetic, I have a boring crappy job that pays the bills and live in a small but sweet house, I'm the most mediocre of average students and have less than an average ability at general household tasks, yet every now and then I look in a mirror and I'm like damn son, you ain't shit. So where would I go? 

It only gets worse when those who do choose the average door get reprimanded for not thinking higher of themselves - surprise surprise, from a company who cash in on the insecurities of women not feeling beautiful enough.

Why in god's name should we even HAVE to make that decision, only then to be told we're wrong about our choices for ourselves, by someone else? Then forever live in the knowledge that we've condemned ourselves to an eternity of either self-realised irrelevance or arrogance?!

I mean for fuck's sake, you might as well have two doors optioned 'Pretty' or 'Shit'.

Faced with that option, I'd gladly know which one I'd choose.

I do see what Dove were going for here - I'm not being deliberately pedantic -  But they've gone about it all the wrong way. Because however optimistic it may be to assume that people are going to instantly think of their own inner gloriousness just as equally as their outer appearance, when faced with the question of DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, that's just not the way we are programmed.

And this effectively says:

If you don't think you are beautiful, you are worthless.

At this, I wanna sit back, place my thumb and forefinger on either side of my nose and exhale deeply. 


And oh my lord almighty, the day that we all realise that we have so, so much more to offer than beauty, will be such a glorious day I might evaporate out of sheer fulfillment.

Dove could have gone with 'Important', 'Extraordinary', 'Influential', 'Powerful', 'Inspirational', 'Intelligent', even 'I goddamn matter' and any woman choosing that door I would have personally run up to them and thrown my arms around them because that it so, goddamn BIG.

So, Dove, I'm sorry but I'm not going to be choosing beautiful. It's impossible to align myself under any one label that determines how much worth I have, and nor should any other multi-faceted and unfathomably complex human being. 

And personally, the internal worth I allocate to my beauty is as good as NOTHING compared to the worth I allocate to my honesty, beliefs, dreams, sense of purpose, pride and my goddamn humanity, as a being, as a person, as a woman.

So I'll happily be your average. But I ain't gonna be mine.