Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Beauty Myth

I saw this video about 3 years ago. A friend highlighted this in Facebook which made me recall what I felt the first time I saw it. It is actually an ad (entitled Evolution) promoted by Unilever, makers of Dove soap products. While there is a commercial interest in it, I think the video is rather well done and achieves a social awareness as well as its Unilever's commercial interests. This is a unique manner in which Unilever tries a present a win-win scenario. They promote the initiative toward authentic beauty while at the same time, gain commercial mindshare for their products. You can click the link here or watch the embedded video below.

Some Brief Thoughts
1) Beware of First Impressions
We all need to be mindful about our tendency to judge people based on first impressions. From a public audition by Susan Boyle in Britain's Got Talent, to a simple private job interview, first impressions can weigh heavily in the minds of decision makers. The adage, "Do not judge a book by its cover" applies both ways. Whether the person in front of us looks down & haggard or whether they are dressed up, we need to withhold judgment and to first see them as ordinary people. Sometimes, fear of being rejected makes us go beyond ourselves to present our artificiality rather than authenticity.

2) Beware of Inner Impressions
What is our personal value system? Do we put external beauty to the point that we would rather present a false front to look good? Is this ethically right? The person in front of us can do so much to present their most beautiful selves. It is our personal value system that determines what to do with them. Like the video, the skillful patching up comes to a point that it deceives. Ethically, I think any company that touches up the original person to the point of forgery has cross the line of deception. When the public buys the product concerned, they do so on the basis of remembering what they see. It might have been a sales advantage for the company concerned, but represents a sharp devaluation from the world's currency of truth and honesty.

3) Technology
The versatility of this new tool can be both a tool for excellence as well as a too for manipulation. There has been lots of news coverage on how famous persons have been impersonated, or even scandalized as image processing are used to incriminate or embarrass them publicly. Even mail scams and hoaxes flood the Internet waves daily and in growing numbers. The technology savvy and discerning reader will not be easily deceived. The same cannot be said about the rest.

4) Sharing this with Impressionable Young
I cannot agree more with my friend Rosie who urged that all teens and young people to watch this video. I like to extend this invitation to all. We can all play our part to educate people about the need to be discerning and not believe everything we see.

5) Inner Beauty
What can we do to promote inner beauty? The clue is actually in the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. One project that we can do is to replace every word 'love' with our own names. Then read 1 Corinthians 13, reading our own name instead of the word 'love.' Will we feel that it is honest? Will we feel hypocritical? Let that be an exercise to remind us that any attempt on inner beauty requires a first step of humility: "We admit we cannot do it alone."

For those of us interested about the beauty industry, a book I would recommend to all to read is "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf.


1 comment:

km chung said...

It's a timely reminder; especially important in this age of avatars! Yes, today's media and commercial interests tend to constantly imprint in our minds what would serve their interest with truth and values air brushed away...

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