For a few years now, Dove has been promoting a campaign they call “Real Beauty.” They use “real” women in their marketing — women of different shapes, skin tones and sizes — and have attempted to tone down some of the makeup and airbrushing and tweaks that abound in advertising. One of their videos, “The Evolution of Beauty,” shows how a model gets made-up and then literally changed through computer cropping — neck elongated, eyebrows arched, lips enhanced — before her image ends up on a billboard. The goal is to show that the images of beauty we see all around us every day are truly unattainable.
The latest Dove video is called “Real Beauty Sketches.” Women come in, one-by-one, and sit behind a curtain as a sketch artist draws a picture of their faces, solely according to the way they describe themselves. The women attempt to provide an accurate depiction of the way they look — pointing out their wrinkles, the circles under their eyes, the flaws in their skin. After the artist has finished the sketch, he then asks the women to describe another woman who they met earlier that day. He then sketches based on the woman’s description. In the end, the women have two sketches of themselves — one based on how they described themselves and one based on how someone else described them. The powerful — and sad — thing about the sketches is that the self-described image is often sad, disappointed, old and discouraged. The sketch based on the other person’s description is much more joyful, youthful and vibrant. The second sketch is much more beautiful.
What hit me when watching this video, was seeing the women look at the two sketches of themselves. Most of them stood there silently — one woman cried. I could see these ladies struggling — grappling with how they see themselves versus how others see them.
I pondered two things when I saw this video. The first thoughts I had were related to how hard we often are on our own looks. Many of us nitpick and condemn and compare; we say things about ourselves that we would never say (or even think) about others. In my article, “The Conundrum of Comparison,” I talk about how I’ve spent a lot of time over-focusing on myself in a negative way. The Real Beauty Sketches video was a really great reminder that many of us spend too much time worrying about our looks and that most people probably see us as much more beautiful than we think we are.
Secondly, the video pointed me back to God’s truth. I was reminded that because of Christ’s sacrifice, I am now washed, sanctified and justified. When God looks at me, He sees someone who has been made righteous by the blood of the Lamb. My ashes have been turned to beauty.
Last week at church, we talked about temptation. My pastor reminded us that what Satan often does when it comes to temptation is undervalue sin. We are tempted and begin to think, Oh, it’s not that bad. I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. But the minute we give into sin, Satan twists things by overvaluing the sin and undervaluing the power of the cross. Once we’ve sinned, we jump to thoughts of never being able to be forgiven, of grace not being enough, of being too evil, too dirty and too unrighteous. That is why the truth of what Christ has done is so amazing. When we confess our sins, God forgives us. He sees what Jesus has done, and He accepts us as clean and holy. He sees us as beautiful.
God’s “sketch” of us is not the first one. It is not the one based on the lies of Satan. It is the one He has drawn with His own, righteous right hand. And that is a freeing and beautiful gift.
Copyright 2013 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.