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Beautiful or Average? …Beautiful!

Dove-choosebeautifulcampaignphotoIt’s no secret, women struggle with body image. We are our own harshest critics. I don’t think many people — even the men in our lives — would argue with that.

Yesterday, I watched the new Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign for the first time and was mesmerized. If you haven’t seen it, watch here.

The campaign centers on a 3.5 min video that shows women from five cities around the globe having to choose to enter a building through one of two doors — a BEAUTIFUL door and an AVERAGE door.

Lori-toddler

Beautiful me – toddler

Precious Lori2

Beautiful me – Kindergarten

Not surprisingly, but certainly saddening, most women walk through the AVERAGE door and then describe how it feels after. A couple of the women criticize themselves after for doing so. At least one walks away and doesn’t enter either door.

lori-beach

Beautiful every day me in my element

And then, toward the end of the video, a beaming woman tugging her daughter and another woman in a wheelchair go through the BEAUTIFUL door. If you’re like me, when you watch the latter your heart swells and you cheer out loud!

Beautiful every day me in my element

Beautiful every day me in my element

I found myself contemplating (not for long) which door I would go through and realized I am certain that today I would pick the BEAUTIFUL door. Yay. I, finally, after years of fighting low self-esteem and not believing I was good enough, believe in my heart and soul that: I AM ENOUGH. And, I AM BEAUTIFUL.

To me the campaign implies total beauty, not just physical beauty. It’s about being and feeling beautiful — owning your beauty — inside and out. Yet the campaign is apparently getting some negative response because it only addresses beauty. Or, it only addresses women and not men. One responder to the video wrote — “Why don’t men get a door?”

Personally, I think this campaign, like the others in Dove’s series titled: “Movement for Self Esteem,” are brilliant. They’re brilliant because they get us thinking and talking about a critical subject. And, because we have the opportunity to have an impact on girls and young women today. Who doesn’t want it to be easier for them?

Certainly, by all marketing standards the Dove campaigns are wildly successful. This campaign already has more than 5 million viewers on YouTube and, according to Fortune Magazine, more than a million entries on Google. Plus, how many of us are blogging about it. The media is covering it…

The larger question to me goes back to the premise of Dove’s campaign. Why as women are we so hard on ourselves? It’s been the societal norm for so long and why is it so tough to break that cycle?

When I share my transformation story, I talk about the self-loathing, lack of self-love and self-confidence I had as a fat girl growing up. I got lots of messages as a child that I wasn’t good enough, but I quickly became my own harshest critic. And the truth is, I wouldn’t talk to anyone in my life — not my girlfriends, my sisters, the women I meet on this transformation journey, not ANYONE — the way I used to talked to myself. It would be stunning how harsh and destructive it was.

That’s all changed for me now. I finally got it. And now, I think I’m beautiful inside and out. Ooops. No. I KNOW I am BEAUTIFUL.

That transformation didn’t happen overnight. And it wasn’t just about losing 200+ pounds, it was a process that evolved as I became aware of what I was telling myself and practicing that wasn’t working for me and was projecting an image to the world of a wounded girl.

It happened as I worked through my old destructive tapes that I learned growing up as a child and rewrote them to more positive affirming tapes (with the help of an amazing therapist). It happened as I found success in my life and learned to celebrate it, as well as the times I slipped and fell and restarted…picking myself up and pressing on letting nothing stop me. It happened when I pushed past fear and did something I didn’t think I could do. It happened as I read amazing works by esteemed authors like Brene Brown  — The Gifts of Imperfection & Daring Greatly — and learned the power of shame in our lives and the hold it has on us.

It snowballed as I grew more confident that I was perfect just as I am == perfectly imperfect. And that really being perfect not only wasn’t attainable, it wasn’t any fun! But it happened. And, if it happened for me, it can happen for you!

There are days — for anyone, I am sure — that I’m not certain I would walk through the BEAUTIFUL door. I might regress and pick AVERAGE. But I no longer walk around beating myself up. And I would encourage anyone of the beautiful and talented women in my life to go for it and walk through that BEAUTIFUL door with her head held high and with confidence. So why wouldn’t I do it myself? Right? I would!

Embracing your inner and outer beauty is not easy. Acknowledging it to the world, may be even harder. But I am so grateful for this lesson and the opportunity to cross over from (below) average to beautiful.

I say thank you, again, Dove. In my book, it’s another home run. If it helps one, thousands, or hopefully millions of women think and question their own beauty and worth, and decide BEAUTIFUL…then it’s a home run!

To all the women reading this that I know and love, and to those I hope to inspire by sharing my story — you are beautiful to me.

XXOOO

Lori

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