Women from their teens to their 40s face unrealistic and unachievable ideas about beauty. This is the result of media portrayal of women with impossible body types that have been altered by cosmetics and edited photography. The prevalence of these images from magazines, television, billboards, and other media is a constant reminder to women that they don’t measure up to the expectations of society. Women see beauty in others, but when they view themselves they are acutely aware of their faults. Giving women an unbiased outsider to describe what they looked like gave each of them a unique perspective. They had the ability to not only hear what they look like to a stranger, but they were able to see what a stranger sees when they look at them. The visuals of the open room with natural light emanating through lots of windows along with the uncluttered atmosphere gave an impression of openness and calm. The music was unobtrusive and gentle. The drawings displayed side by side in a gallery atmosphere gave the impression of women as works of art. There is no defensiveness or offensiveness, simply a calming, open impression being given and received.
To see real women, with real impressions of themselves and the real impressions that others had of them, hit a nerve with a huge audience. Gone were the celebrities with picture perfect skin, hair and bodies that are also corrected and edited. These were real women with real lives and real insecurities. The ad speaks to real women and lets them know that they are not alone and they are beautiful and precious. After years and even a lifetime of images of what beauty should be, the ad holds up a mirror to all so that they can see that they are beautiful. Helping women to understand that others see them as far more beautiful than they allow themselves to see. It wasn’t simply the women in the ad, it was every woman that viewed the ad that is truly beautiful. Women not only saw this for themselves, but they wanted their daughters, sisters, friends and relatives to know and understand this as well, and that compelled them to share. They passed on the message that they see other women as beautiful and precious. Women share this ad on social media, email, and talked about it with their friends who also sought it out. This campaign shared a story that is compelling and that people need to hear.
I think the biggest take away from this campaign was, that it is not enough to tell someone. It is far more impactful if you can let your audience see for themselves. You can tell someone they are beautiful until you are blue in the face, but if they don’t “see” it they will not believe you. There are many ways to do this, but the most impactful way is to have an unbiased witness plead your case. That this was done visually, not only by a witness, but also by a forensic artist who is often called as an expert witness, took this to the next level. The witness and the audience had nothing to gain or lose by their “testimony.” We often dismiss the opinions of those who are close to us because we know they love us no matter what. We feel we could be the most hideous of creatures, but our loved ones would see us for who they love, not what we look like. But, a stranger who is not invested in our opinion or motivated by their relationship holds an unbiased perspective that can be far more insightful. It seems we are impacted more by the words of a stranger far more than the words of our friends and family. Sharing a story with an audience that is impactful and valuable can form far greater attachments when we can reach people where they are and help them to see with greater perspective as a result of having witnessed our message.