There’s a lot of talk about being ‘real’ and ‘getting real’ that gets thrown around nowadays, when in fact, everyone, myself included, has so much trouble accepting who they are and what they look like. In my personal experience, I’ve found that it’s always easier to believe an insult over a compliment. For instance, In 2013, I was at a family function and a cousin of mine caught up with me in the buffet line and just as I was about to serve myself, only half jokingly said, “Careful, don’t serve too much, you’re already getting really fat.” I brushed it off obviously, but it wasn’t until that point (I was happy and healthy and had everything going in life) that I became conscious of the weight I had put on. Cut to a year later, and I was 46 kilos (14 kilos lighter) and the compliments started pouring in. But here’s the thing, I wasn’t happy. I lost the weight because of stress and the sudden pressure of achieving this gold standard of what one is supposed to look like didn’t help matters at all.
I’m telling you all of this as a backdrop to explain why, when I came across Dove’s new campaign, #RealBeauty, it really struck a chord. For over 50 years, Dove has been championing real women and focusing on real beauty all over the world. 2016 is India’s year. They conducted a year long survey after talking to 800 women on women’s feelings of self esteem, on beauty and how their opinions changed over time.
Some of the findings of the Truth About Beauty 2015 survey were as follows:
Dove’s first India-specific campaign, Let’s Break the Rules of Beauty, aims to redefine the existing beauty standards and inspires India to embrace its diversity in beauty and they achieved this by releasing a film shot by Pan Nalin which captures 85 women, across India, in their own avatars celebrating their own idea of beauty.
I feel very strongly that people respond to people and hearing some of these women’s stories really spoke to me as I know they will speak to you.
Mary Ann, 23, Kolkata
Both outgoing and courageous, Mary-Anne thrives on exploring new cultures and languages, and has just completed her postgraduate degree in sustainable development. Apart from her mother tongue, she can speak French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi and Bengali too.She’s always thinking of new ways to help her local community and also enjoys painting and photographing the city. Of beauty she says,
I’ve always thought that a person who is beautiful is a person who is aware of themselves.
Dr. Gita Prakash, 61, New Delhi
Gita is passionate about her job as a physician, which enables her to create close bonds with her community. She also runs her own charitable clinic for the workers in her locality. Growing up in Kashmir, Gita learned to sail and ha spent many holidays sailing with her husband. She has two grown-up children and a beautiful grandchild, all of whom she is proud of. It was Gita’s 61st birthday whilst on the Dove shoot, and it was certainly a birthday that she will never forget. When asked about her beliefs on beauty, she shared,
As we grow older, we become beautiful in a different way. Being a mum makes you all the more beautiful. And I should know, as a grandmother who relishes in her beauty!
Ektha, 24, Bengaluru
As a confident and expressive young woman, we believe Ektha is a great role model for the young girls of India. Ektha works as a social carer and feels she has landed her dream job. In the future, she’d like to complete a Masters in child psychology and teach young children. As a self-confessed extrovert, she enjoys being surrounded by loved ones, whom she describes as “her world”. When asked about her thoughts on beauty she said,
If I turn back and notice you for the second time, I consider you as beautiful. Just the fact that your face stands out in a crowd…that for me is beautiful.
Gives you the tingles right? That’s what I meant about people getting people, and coming together with each of their stories. Share your thoughts with us in the comment below!
This post is in partnership with Dove.