If you haven’t seen it yet, Dove posted another powerful video for their #ChooseBeautiful campaign. I’ve watched this video over and over this past week. The first time I watched it I cried. Then I watched it again and I cried some more. The third time I watched it with my 8 year-old daughter… and I cried again. But when I watched with my daughter, I was fascinated by how different our experiences were. While I cried (again), she watched it with a huge smile. I cried because I identified with the women choosing the Average door. I cried because I wanted them to choose the Beautiful door. My daughter smiled because she identified with the women choosing the Beautiful door. I think she loved the idea of walking through the Beautiful door.
After watching the video I asked her why she thought so many women chose the Average door and she couldn’t think of a reason. I asked her which door she would choose and she quickly answered “The Beautiful Door” and as relieved as I was to hear her answer, I did notice the tiny bit of doubt on her face as she said it. The doubt worried me at first but then I realised, doubt is inevetible, and what I really want for her is to know that when doubt creeps in, she still has the power to make her own choice. Last, I asked her, “Do you think some of the women were right to choose the Average door?” to which she answered, “No, I think they all should have picked the Beautiful door because everyone is beautiful.” And while I would like to gloat on her perfect answer, the truth is, I think most little girls would give that exact same answer.
I think most little girls would choose to run to the beautiful door excited to declare their beauty. But I can’t say that as a grown women I would choose the Beautiful door. Sitting in the privacy of my home, watching the video for the first time, I thought, “Of course I would choose the beautiful door.” But, in truth, if I were really faced with this choice out in public, I think I’d be self-conscious. I think I’d be worried that someone might see me choose the beautiful door and think that I wasn’t worthy of it. I would feel like a fraud going through the Beautiful door. And as you can see in the video, I’m not the only one thinking that. Watching this video and having this conversation with my young daughter, it makes me wonder – what the hell happens to us that we grow up to become adults afraid of valuing ourselves?
I see this all the time with my clients. Not just that they can’t declare themselves beautiful, but they aren’t comfortable seeing themselves in a postive light. They’re uncomfortable declaring themselves healthy, fit, strong, in control, capable – you name it. It’s so easy for us to trash talk ourselves. So easy to point out all of our own flaws. Why is it so hard to declare that we have positive traits too? In my first draft of this post I wrote that I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. After writing that first draft, I kept thinking to myself, “We need to be kinder to ourselves”. We see so much of that advice these days. But being kinder to myself, that advice just didn’t resonate with me. It didn’t feel like a powerful solution and then it hit me – maybe what we really need is to be kinder to each other.
At times I make an effort to show myself compassion and, while it isn’t a bad thing, it doesn’t exactly alter my life. But when I make an effort to show compassion for others I find that I can be more compassionate with myself without even trying. Now that I’ve seen this video, I’m going to make an effort to spend a few moment each day noticing the beauty in other women. I doubt that there is one simple solution to the question, “What the hell happens to us that we grow up to become adults afraid of valuing ourselves?”, but I’m curious to find out… can this one simple effort get me closer to that Beautiful door?
If you were in this exact same situation, what door would you choose?