The other day I was in the dentist's chair for some emergency work (don't ask) and while a trip to the dentist isn't what I'd consider a relaxing affair, the thing I found most disturbing as I lay taut in the recliner with tools and tubes and fingers sticking out of my mouth wasn't the high-pitched whine of grinding bone or the sudden spritz of water in my face, but the conversation taking place over my head between the hygienist and the assistant. They were talking about wanting a total face lift and what it felt like the last time one of them had Botox. I looked again. These were both ladies in their thirties, both pretty and fair; one with a happy, round face and funky glasses and the other with delicate features and a chirping voice like a bird. What I really wanted to do was start ranting about body image and self-esteem and manipulative media but since I was otherwise choking, I wished I could do the next best thing and shove a copy of UGLIES into their hands.
It's not for me to say whether or not someone can feel better about themselves by "having something done"--it's not my opinion that matters, it's wholly theirs--but the assumption that there is already something wrong with you and that if you could just have it "fixed" then everything in life would be better is advertising psychology 101 run amok. Scott Westerfeld did an *amazing* job of shining a light on that cultural baseline that lurks inside the hearts of many a girl (and guy), but as we're coming up on our yearly celebration of Moms, I think about how much our bodies and psyches change after spawning small people who look vaguely like our genetic heritage and the pressure to somehow rewind things to the way they were "before" (or "better") can be a subtle sort of...well, not evil, but close.
So in anticipation of Mother's Day, I gave myself the gift of peace of mind, a little proactive defiance, perhaps nipping a little bit of cultural self-hatred in the bud. I showed my own budding little girl this video from Dove's Real Beauty Campaign, which simply shows-not-tells that the ads we see on billboards and magazines and TV aren't something we have to compare ourselves to, because they're often less real than what Mommy writes for a living.
She got it. So I'll give it to you. Go share this with a friend. (Sadly, this video can't be embedded, so please click & pass it on!)