Dove had a campaign recently that featured women being drawn by an artist who they couldn’t see as he asked them questions about how they looked. How did they feel about their hair, their chin, their smile, their profile; the artist also drew each woman as he asked questions about them to a woman or a man who had simply noticed her when sitting together in a waiting room, or a nearby table in a restaurant, or at an airport it seemed.
In each case, the woman herself pointed out features of her face that appeared inadequate, perhaps puffy eyes, or too thin lips, or drab eye color or ears too big; and in each case, the stranger who had noticed the woman highlighted beautiful skin, soft lips, a pleasant even joyous smile, a grin that lit up her eyes!
Finally, the artist invited the woman to view each portrait of herself that had been painted based on what the artist had been told in response to questions and then comparing it with her portrait drawn based on direct questions to her. The women were in awe at the difference between the two, some wiping tears away at their self-images and some simply speechless at the beauty seen by a stranger yet unable to see her own beauty much at all.
We don’t truly see ourselves the way others see us. My fear about what you think, my desire to mimic what I have decided is beauty, my feeling of inadequacy as I compare myself to another…each of these keep me from living fully and assuming that I am whole and lovely and capable and easily confident. Compassionate acts of kindness begin with me as I accept how graceful and beautiful I truly am, even if I need someone else to tell me occasionally. Pass it on.