I love being a woman, but identifying with my gender comes with some challenges. Most notably, members of society think it's acceptable to comment on my appearance. I've been shamed by friends, family, and even complete strangers for more characteristics than I can even keep track of. My extreme love of makeup, ghostly pale skin, upper lip fuzz, and constantly yo-yoing weight have all elicited some kind of reaction far too many times . . . to the point that my academic and professional successes are completely overshadowed, and all I can think about is my looks.
Unfortunately, these feelings of mine are a majority among women. According to Dove, seven in 10 women agree that women and girls receive more compliments or comments about the way they look than on their accomplishments. When you think about this, it's completely heartbreaking. Remember those "Am I Pretty?" videos? It would be aligned with Dove's research to say that girls growing up in this kind of environment believe that all their value is placed in their appearance. And sadly, many of us (grown women included!) seek affirmation about our looks in the hopes of bolstering our self-esteem.
In the hopes of changing the conversation, Dove is spotlighting this phenomenon. The new #MyBeautyMySay campaign focuses on nine real women who don't conform to traditional beauty standards. Included are poet Elizabeth Acevedo (the author of the viral spoken-word piece "Hair"), androgynous model Rain Dove, and boxer Heather Hardy. All the participants in the above video share the comments they've received about their looks and how they've overcome being limited by these narrow-minded remarks.
To my surprise, Dove revealed that 74 percent of women agree that the unique characteristics of a woman make up her beauty. Though it's clear that society has a long way to go towards internalizing that sentiment, I think it's a positive sign. My hope is that by watching the video, 100 percent of women will begin to feel this way, inside and out.
In addition to the short film, Dove is creating a place for women to speak out. Through the #MyBeautyMySay hashtag, the brand invites you to share your own story of surpassing beauty limits. Watch the empowering video, then join the conversation on social media.