Selling to women with a message of empowerment has become Dove’s stock-in-trade. And whether you buy their products or not, the messages they’re sharing are good to remember.
In a recent commercial that’s airing in France, Dove asks a bunch of women to write down every thought they have about themselves throughout the day. According to the article in Fast Company where I first read about it, Dove picked out “the most negative ones…and two actresses then articulated the thoughts in a cafe, within earshot of the same (unsuspecting) participants.”
One actress starts telling the other: “you’re just fat and ordinary”…”sit up straight or your belly looks big”…”your face looks like a bulldog”…”I wish I could see you with a normal body…at least once.”
“Dove says this film is intended to “showcase their thoughts” with a view to helping women rethink how they talk to themselves.” And the point is clearly made.
The women who wrote these comments are shocked to hear them come from one woman directed to another. “It’s what I say to myself all day long. Now I get how violent it is.” “She said exactly the same things I say to myself, like in my notebook.” “It’s horrifying.”
And then there’s this one, that seems to knock it home even deeper…
“I hope my daughter never speaks to herself like that.”
When we think of our daughters, friends, nieces, and other young girls and women, this sort of talk is absolutely horrifying. Yet we do it to ourselves all the time.
But there’s a way to start changing the way we talk to ourselves. And it doesn’t have to involve hearing someone else speak your words out loud.
Try this at home: Do the first part of Dove’s experiment: write down your thoughts. Write them throughout one day, or one week. If that seems too daunting: just sit down for a few minutes and do a brain-dump of all the harsh inner-critic nastiness that lurks beneath the surface. Record all the dark, icky things you say to yourself about your looks, your competence, how you operate in relationships, and your ability to chart your own course.
Then put the writing down and go do something else for a while. An hour; a day; a week…whatever feels right for you. (you might want to put on some upbeat music and dance around your living room to shake it off a bit too, before you move on into your day.)
Then, when you come back and read it, does it surprise you? Or are you so used to it that it almost feels true? Ask yourself: would you talk to your dearest friends like that?
No? Then take a minute, reframe all that junk, and write something about all those things you said as if you are your own best friend.
Because that’s the goal, kids: be for yourself as you would be to those you love.
Write it down. Notice. Adjust. Make it better.
(now go: be kind. ‘specially to yourself.)
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