File this one under #realitycheck. The setup: Dove had women participate in a Real Beauty project where an FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora sat down to sketch two portraits of them. One was based on the women’s description of themselves and the other based on a stranger’s. The results showed a significant gap between how the women perceived themselves and how others perceive them.
When one of the women looked at the portraits side by side and realized that a stranger’s description of her was kinder, younger, and more beautiful than hers, she had a moment of clarity and said this:
I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. [How we see ourselves] impacts the choices and friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness.
I learn something new all the time and at that moment, I learned how truly deep our self-perception goes. That our self-perception affects even how we treat our children, is something I had never put together before.
Do you need to do some work on your self-perception?
An easy exercise you can do every day is to remind yourself that physical beauty is a construct. We have a choice whether to buy into other people’s standards of beauty or not. We have a choice in whether to accept wider definitions of beauty that include our own. Here are three assignments you can do to start working on how you see yourself:
Assignment 1: What flower are you?
We know that roses are the most popular flower but of the hundreds of other types of flowers out there, I bet you could find at least one you think is as or more beautiful. I did the exercise myself and discovered quite a few I had never heard of. Two I really like are the Angelica (because it’s my middle name) and the Floss Flower. Both have a delicate and almost regal quality to them as well as being hard to find.
To find a flower that aptly describes you…
- Look for one you’ve never heard of before and choose a favorite.
- Next, study the qualities of this flower. Find out about its history and everything you can.
- Finally, write done qualities of the flower that could also describe you
Let this definition be your new standard of beauty and how you see yourself. You may even want to fame a photo of the flower and hang it in a prominent place in your bathroom, near your makeup counter or someplace where you’ll notice it often.
Assignment 2: Beautiful Affirmation
Pick a new beauty affirmation and repeat it to yourself everyday…
- I am growing more beautiful and luminous every day.
- I’m beautiful inside and out.
- I am the happiest and most beautiful when I love and accept myself.
- I’m beautiful because I’m me: thoughtful, smart and easy on the eyes.
- Everyone with a loving heart is beautiful, including me.
- Even without these heels and lipstick, I’m flawless.
Assignment 3: Challenge Your Perception
- Every time you question whether you’re beautiful, ask yourself whether leaders of industries or the person you’re trying to be would be sitting around wondering if they’re beautiful.
Our imperfections are what make us who we are. More than what we look like, we are defined by our talents, our heart, our experiences, our values, how we treat others, how we show up, what we think and dream about. These are real.
We can’t make the journey through life the best it can be or keep our motivation high if we’re preoccupied with a construct.
As a black woman, I know something about false constructs. Making them real and identifying with them is like owning someone else’s problem.
You don’t have time for that.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.