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Dove Dishes the Real Truth on Beauty

Real smart or just plain real...

During the 70's home perms, dispensed by my mother at the kitchen table, defined my perception of beauty. For two hours, my mother's fingers danced through my hair like a ballerina's toes across a dance floor. For two hours, my hair was only concern, my beauty her only focus.

Beauty is only skin deepBeauty is only skin deepHer friends often joined us and the conversations that swirled over my 12 year old head became my first lessons in beauty. I remember being asked once what I wanted to do when I grew up. Marry a millionaire, of course.

"I don't ever want to hear you say that again, Julia," Mrs. Lapointe admonished. "Make your own million and then get married." While neither my mom nor Mrs. Lapointe had followed that directive (and nor would I) their words set the tone for the rest of my beauty lessons - you will always bring more to the table than your looks.

A few weeks ago, I attended the release of Dove's research on the "Real Truth about Beauty" in Toronto. I listened for 2 hours to Jeanne Beker (my fashion hero), Shelly-Ann Brown (Olympic silver medalist), Genevieve Borne and Lisa Naylor talk about how their growing up years shaped their feelings about beauty. The role our mothers play in how we feel about our own beauty weaved through the afternoon.

Finding the truth about beauty through my daughter

Afterward, I showed my daughter (who attended the making of the Singing in the Rain, but not this event) the video I shot. At 14, Grace is still a child but her view of the beautiful, ugly and simply sad is unique.  We discussed some of the Twitter conversations in response to the video and she's read the comments on SocialNorth.

Creating Dove's "Singing in the rain" video: 


Grace will never be tanned like Jlo, nor will she ever be reed thin like Jennifer Aniston. But she wears the truth of her own curvy, vivacious beauty proudly. Maybe it's because she doesn't seek out her beauty messages in magazines or in a marketing campaign.

Grace and JuliaGrace and JuliaHer friends are equal parts supportive and hurtful, her grandparents professional cheerleaders and her siblings the honesty police. I hope I'm her mirror, reflecting as my mother did for me, simply the truth. Regardless of who she's listening to, she auto-filters it all and is left with her truth.  

She trusts her truth more than she trusts any other. Maybe that's where the truth of real beauty lies - in the confidence behind the smile.

To give one brand the power to 100% nurture or pollute a child's view of beauty borders on ludicrous. Brands - plural - play one part of that view. But they don't and never will shape a girl's entire opinion. Any problems created by brands that tell us we have to be thinner, blonder, more tanned are perpetuated by us when we over-diet, refuse to the leave the house without makeup or put other women down for their choices.

How did we let our filters get so clogged with nonsense?

Who is your beauty critic?

How many messages?How many messages?During the Dove event in Toronto, the stats released were sobering. By 14, a girl's interpretation of beauty rules her life. Nearly half of all Canadian girls lack the confidence to engage in sports because they lack they're worried about how they'll look while doing it.

  • Girls without positive role models are less likely to avoid activities based on their feelings of personal beauty.
  • By the age of 15, less than 3% of girls consider themselves beautiful.
  • By the age of 15, only 56% of girls consider themselves confident.

The confidence/beauty factor

A few people on Twitter have questioned how I could work with Dove knowing Unilever's marketing message in India. Someone said that because I helped make the video, I was contributing to the problem. But that would be like saying because I wrote for the Boston Globe, which earns revenue from medical spas, that I'm aligning myself with the botox injections...Stupid, right?

a confident body imagea confident body imageMy Grace is a strong, opinionated, beautiful girl and I'm grateful she's growing up in a family that lets her know her looks are the least important of her assets. She is more than the sum of her parts and that beauty is found last in the mirror - first in her heart.

Come to think of it, Grace is a lot like my mom and Mrs. Lapointe - and me. She knows that you can't buy beauty. It's the confidence behind the smile, not something you put on before you leave the house. There are millions of pretty girls in the world, but the beautiful ones have a spark, a zest, something indefinable.

What is your beauty truth? Does a brand have the power to change it?

If you'd like to learn more about Dove's Self Esteem Fund for Girls, visit Dove Canada.

If you'd like to read my other posts on my experiences with Dove Canada, please visit SocialNorth.

Dove ~ Singing in the Rain with Bloggers

Dove ~ Real Beauty, Real Smart

And if you'd like to see what other women are saying about Dove, check out these blogs:

Globetrotting Mama

My Wee Review

My Organized Chaos

Everybody Else is Already Taken

Positive Fabulous Women


The "Official Dove Video"


Share your story with us here on GoGirlfriend or reach out on Twitter or Facebook - we'd love to hear from you!


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HungryGirl's picture

Such a great story - thx for sharing. I'd say that all the women in your world are lucky, Julia.

Wow, Great article, really though provoking. Magazines and media are so discriminative these days, and you can see why a lot of young girls are getting the wrong idea about beauty. We need more curvy and not stereotypical models and celebrities for our kids to see also. And give them confidence within themselves. Michaela

That is just beautiful, Julia! I hope one day my daughters and I have the same close, honest relationship that you and Grace have. I think that is the difference when it comes to Real Beauty - honesty and integrity. ...and memories of a great perm in the 80's. I know I did! I just had to add that! :) Tammi

Love the perm memories, Tammi ....NOT! But they're our memories so it's all good, I guess..... I think you're right about the relationship - and I think father's, brothers, uncles.....they all play an important role too. I think your daughters will do just fine because they've got you for a Mom and you are one of the sunniest, bubbliest people I know. Thanks Tammi!

I think the pressures on young people these days are greater than ever before. I think the way you are relating and communicating with your daughter is great ... if only everyone raised their kids the same way. Here's my take on the whole concept of beauty: http://karynclimans.com/2010/11/18/real-beauty/

What a positive article! Our daughters today are such fortunate young ladies with all the encouragement and life lessons and inner beauty. We need to encourage this always and often.

Mom, it's a positive article because of the positivity you surrounded me with growing up. Thank you for being the woman I will always measure myself against - it's a standard I'll happily stand up to. Love you mom - more than I think either us will every know, Julia

Love the positive messages for young girls! I don't think teens should be looking at certain media for their beauty tips - it just creates a false image. Mothers should make more of an effort like you to encourage their daughters' confidence and inner beauty.

Thanks, Renee! I think we all struggle with this - with our daughters and with ourselves. But part of the answer lies in the willingness to even ask the question, right? Love that you stopped by and that you commented! Julia

I couldn't agree more with the comments in your post. It is so important for us to be supported in our "body-love" efforts!

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