I was rushing to work in the morning, head down and deep in thought. I didn’t feel particularly great about myself as a result of very unpleasant events that happened to me over the last few weeks. Nothing that happened was my fault but it still made me feel extremely low. Then I saw a little sticker on the Millennium Bridge railing. It made me smile and I felt a bit happier. This is a little thank you to the unknown person who decided to make other people’s day better.
It also made me think about beauty. Every day we are bombarded by media promoting such high standards of what beauty should be, that it is really difficult to see it in ourselves. We are our own worst critics and utterly undervalue the way we look. We focus on every little detail we don’t like, rather than seeing the essence that makes each of us who we are. That the real, the true beauty comes from within. If it is inside of us, it will show no matter what we look like.
A while ago I came across a Dove campaign aimed at making people feel beautiful as the first step to happier, more confident lives. In the experiment, which was called Real Beauty Sketches, they asked an FBI forensic artist to draw two portraits of the women who took part in it. One based on their own description, and the other using a stranger’s observations. The resulting images couldn’t have been more different.
“What has stayed with me are the emotional reactions the women had when they viewed the composite sketches hung side by side. I think many of these brave women realised that they had a distorted self-perception that had affected parts of their lives in significant ways.”
Gil Zamora, FBI forensic artist
Watching the video was a touching experience, and what stayed with me was the thought that we are more beautiful than we think. As long as we are kind and perhaps try to see ourselves through a stranger’s eyes.