So I saw Dove's most recent 'Real Beauty' Campaign video. I generally found it uplifting. I do agree with its message and I think there is truth in what they are saying. As women, when it comes to self image, we are our own worst critic. It's all true. I think if I were the typical all American girl, my thoughts would end there. "Great. Moving. Going to share on FB! We, as women, need to see the beauty that others see in us!" However, I didn't grow up us as a typical all American girl and because of my experiences as a Korean American, while watching the video, there were certain nagging questions I had ringing in my mind. While I just wanted to be moved by the message, like a boiling kettle, the more moved I was suppose to be, the louder the questions became.
What are girls suppose to think when others tell them they are ugly?
Growing up in upstate NY, there was a decent amount of diversity in the school I attended. I never felt looked down upon for being Asian. I also had a pretty good self image. I never wished I looked like anyone other than myself. Until I moved to NJ...
Though NJ is a very diverse state, filled with Asians and many other races, ethnic groups, cultures etc., the town where I relocated was mostly.. like 99.9% Caucasian. I remember on my first day of school the teachers sent down a Chinese girl (the one other Asian) to translate for me because they assumed I couldn't speak English. That was a bad sign. Day in and day out of my middle school career I was trying navigate my way through a hail storm of racist, ignorant, hurtful remarks.
I remember many times in 6th grade girls would tap me on the shoulder, look me in the eye and snidely say"Joy, you are ugly."
Those words are etched in my memory. I remember their faces, their expressions, but more importantly I remember how it made me feel. I knew they were just being hurtful because I looked different, I was alone, and simply put, because they could. I knew it wasn't true. Years prior to those moments others, like my mother, teachers, and friends, told me otherwise, but it's funny how a few words, a few girls, can shake the foundations of your self esteem and swiftly destroy what took years to shape and build. Over time their words, like water on sandstone, eroded my self image. I no longer was happy with the way I looked. I remember feeling my eyes at school and thinking "wow they are really small."
It took a long time to build back what was lost and it has been a journey to accept and love who I am as a Korean American. Luckily I was blessed to have a supportive family and a community of people around me to help slowly drown out their words. But ultimately, through that process I learned that I needed to find who I was apart from what other people thought. For me, through my faith in God, I was able to ground my self image. Because I knew God loved me, thought I was beautiful, and created me for a purpose, over time it didn't matter what people said about me. That was the root I needed to set a firm foundation for my self esteem and self image. Other people's words, like weather to plant, change, is unpredictable, sometimes it's warm, sometimes its cool, other times its harsh, but my roots make me who I am and who I know I am.
This brings me back to the Dove Campaign. The women come to a realization that they are beautiful because of what someone else said. The idea is to see the beauty in yourself that others see in you. If we are using others as a judge of our own beauty what happens when they say otherwise. Every day there are young girls in middle school and high school that are told they are the opposite of beautiful, like I was. Ultimately I believe that a girl can only find her real beauty when she finds her roots.
I know by bringing this up I may be putting too many expectations on the video. I appreciate what Dove is trying to do. In 3 minutes it does do a good job of bringing up a good point. My questions though, make me realize how much my experiences has shaped me to think the way I do. I hope Kaitlyn never has to go through what I went through. I hope she has friends, mentors, teachers, and I hope we as her family do a good enough job to let her know, to the best of our ability, the full extent of her beauty, but more than that, I hope she finds her roots in God, discovering how beautiful she is for herself.