Dove - Real Beauty

Dove, suppliers of silky soft soap, have had some brilliant ‘real beauty’ marketing campaigns of late. One of my favourites is the Dove Evolution ad which I’ve used in ministry in the past.

Now comes this new campaign highlighting, again, the issue of how women perceive themselves and what true beauty is about.

It’s another interesting video…but…there’s something not quite right with it this time. Jazzy Little Drops picks up some of the issues (original emphasis):

At the end of the experiment, one of the featured participants shares what I find to be the most disturbing quote in the video and what Dove seems to think is the moral of the story as she reflects upon what she’s learned, and how problematic it is that she hasn’t been acknowledging her physical beauty: It’s troubling,” she says as uplifting music swells in the background. “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty.  It impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we go out for, they way we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

Did you hear that, ladies? How beautiful you are affects everything—from your personal relationships to your career. It could not be more critical to your happiness! And while it could be argued that the woman was actually talking about how you feel about yourself or something, it is clearly edited to suggest that the “it” is beauty. I know we’ve been told it thousands upon thousands of times before, but I hope you heard that, girls: your physical, superficial beauty is the most significant part of who you are, and the most important determining factor in your life. And now I want you to hear this: that is a lie.

What you look like should not affect the choices that you make. It should certainly not affect the friends you make—the friends that wouldn’t want to be in relationship with you if you did not meet a certain physical standard are not the friends that you want to have. Go out for jobs that you want, that you’re passionate about. Don’t let how good looking you feel like you are affect the way that you treat your children. And certainly do not make how well you feel align with the strict and narrow “standard” that the beauty industry and media push be critical to your happiness, because you will always be miserable. You will always feel like you fall short, because those standards are designed to keep you constantly pressured into buying things like make up and diet food and moisturizer to reach an unattainable goal. Don’t let your happiness be dependent on something so fickle and cruel and trivial. You should feel beautiful, and Dove was right about one thing: you are more beautiful than you know. But please, please hear me: you are so, so much more than beautiful. 

Jazzy Little Drops elsewhere links to this fantastic video on the same issue (LANGUAGE WARNING):

Powerful stuff.

But I believe Jazzy’s words and the above video only push half way to the true solution of the problem of fickle beauty.

Genesis tells us that both man and woman are made in the image of God. The creation of Woman in Genesis 2 is a unique event: where God previously created via his words, in Genesis 2 the LORD God is said to form Adam and Eve with his hands, breathing into them his breath of life. It’s an incredibly intimate act and unlike any other ‘creating’ that God does. And God does such a good job of creating Eve that Adam’s first response is poetry – the first (and last? :P) time a man’s instinctive reaction is prose.

But this beautiful description of creation and human relationships is not the world we see around us. Simply put, Genesis 3 (widely known as ‘the Fall’) makes a mess of things and it takes chapter after chapter until the first coming of Jesus to begin to rectify this problem.

Where this leaves us: once perfect image bearers now broken, left with the impossible task of trying to pick up the pieces. Unless God supernaturally intervenes there is no hope of restoration. But that’s the good news of the Gospel. For in faith produced by Jesus’ death and resurrection we also have restoration.

Dove has millions of internet views and shares because it’s tapping into an issue and insecurity that many of us have about the beauty industry. But Dove’s and Jazzy’s response are both representative of our fallen world trying figure out a fallen answer to a fallen problem.

All women (and men) today are still image bearers. Broken as they are, the fact that we are image bearers gives all women everywhere an inherent value and beauty. It’s what gives all human life true dignity and value – that we are uniquely created and bear God’s image like no other creature.

Through Jesus Christ this broken image is restored. Jazzy is right about women: ‘…you are so, so much more than beautiful.’ And in Jesus Christ you can discover how much more.

This is why Peter says what he says here:

[3:1] Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, [2] when they see your respectful and pure conduct. [3] Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—[4] but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. [5] For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, [6] as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV)

Sarah was considered a hotty. I kid you not. When she met Pharaoh he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. This made Abraham so initially fearful that he lied and said Sarah was his sister instead of his wife, in order to avoid trouble!

How old was Sarah when she was given the second glance? Probably 65.

What beauty caught the eye of Pharaoh? Perhaps it was her physical beauty. Ultimately for us Peter sees it rightly: her adorning was the imperishable beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit which overflowed in loving relationship to her husband.

Now, by extrapolation I believe the same principles of a gentle, quiet spirit apply to single girls also.

But the principle itself only applies to Christians. This is not a commandment for all women, but an implication which flows from being:

…born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3)

and responding by:

…preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… (1 Peter 1:13)


…not being conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (1 Peter 1:15)

This, therefore, is the wonderful truth that makes women truly and honestly beautiful: the restoration of the image of God in your life by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yes, you are so much more than beautiful. You are a child of God.


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