Samson and Caleb and I had a discussion about civil rights on Tuesday. We watched Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and — to kick it up a notch — finished up with the Common/Will.i.am video from the inspiring movie, Freedom Writers.
[At this writing, the movie is free on Prime Instant Videos! Watch it!]
The grainy black and white recording of the speech is a bit long and unexciting to little boys. But all I really wanted the two of them to learn was this:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I’m not black or brown. I’m pasty white. With freckles. And while I’ve never dealt with racism, I’ve dealt with hairism. It’s fundamentally no different than ageism or weightism or abilityism or sexism or any other -ism that has nothing to do with behavior or goodness. And when we’re judged on something other than the content of our character — than what we do and how we contribute — it’s mind-numbingly difficult to make sense of — or to change.
Beauty Redefined is a movement aiming to change the incredibly overbearing emphasis on physical appearance that women face. They want women to understand that:
Their reflections do not define their worth and that their value and their power comes from who they are, what they do and what they contribute — not what they look like.
It was from a less than glowing Facebook post from Beauty Redefined that I heard about the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” today. The experiment shows women that they are far more critical of themselves than others are — and we should seriously knock it off. As one participant said:
Our self-perceptions are generally kind of harsh and unbecoming when really that’s not how the world sees us.
Hoorah. But when I watched the much touted and cried over video, I was still less than overflowing with self-love.
- protruding chins
- big jaws
- fat, rounder faces
- big foreheads
- plain cheeks
- looking tired
- crows feet
- dark circles
You will also learn that these are good:
- prominent cheekbones
- rosy cheeks
- fuller lips
- thin chins
- blue eyes
- expressive eyes
- short, cute noses
- thin faces
And there’s the rub. Rather than promote acceptance of our bodies — so we can move on to more important things, like character — the video gets stuck on the same positives and negatives of out typical body-hating culture.
It’s still not cool (or beautiful) to be 50, but, hey, you still look 40! Big jaws really are hideous, but your jaw isn’t all that big! Those revolting freckles? No, they’re so faint I hardly notice them!
I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.
Nothing is more critical to our happiness than being grateful of our natural beauty? Nothing?
I kept looking at the sketches of the women on the left — the “ugly” women — and thinking, “What of them?” Do we move their ugly pictures to the right and draw even uglier ones for the left — so that in comparison they can feel beautiful? So then they can have that most critical thing?
The Dove campaign tagline is: “You are more beautiful than you think.” Statistically this is true. But I wish this is what we taught women:
Beauty is not the color of your skin, the size of your thighs, the depth of your wrinkles, or the size of your nose. Beauty — if it is truly critical to happiness — is who you are inside.