Don't Tell Me I'm Beautiful

Average Karen
Dove released a new video campaign commercial. After the initial emotional punch of the video, which shows women choosing between doors marked “Average” or “Beautiful,” began to fade, the justifiably critical responses began. Where is the door marked strong, or smart, asked some viewers. Has Dove jumped the shark, asked some marketing pundits. Others agreed that while the ad has its flaws, it was able to act as some sort of important conversation starter.

What conversation is that, exactly? The conversation where we discuss how (once again) we are manipulated by a very powerful multi-national company made up of beauty and household brands into thinking that our self-worth is tied into our looks?

Because Average or Beautiful, Dove wants us to think about how we look, period. And Dove thinks that if we do not think we are beautiful, by now, after all of their other campaigns assuring us we are beautiful, buyourproductsplease, there must be something very goddamn wrong and sad about us.

Know which door I would have walked through? Not the beautiful one.

Do I think I’m beautiful? Not at all.
Am I bothered by that? Not at all.

Because you, or Dove, or my husband can say, fuck our unrealistic and rigid standards of beauty, birthed by a corporate machine and perpetuated by a society invested in preying on our insecurities, all you want.

I know what I am, and I’m not beautiful, by just about anybody’s standards.

I know what I am. I’m lots and lots of things, both good and bad. I am a woman. I am lots of things, and if beautiful is not one of those things, if I am average, that’s not a sad, terrible fate to have to bravely face.

Last I checked, average was not synonymous with insecure, failure, unloveable, or ugly, nor did beauty, inner or outer, solve any problems other than selling soap.

Inner beauty has nothing to do with how I look, and outer beauty is a trick of genetics and luck. Beauty is not in my lexicon. It doesn’t have to be.

I can own average proudly. As a matter of fact, I think I probably only hit average on a really, really good day. And I don’t give a shit. I am happy with my life, I like who I am, I got the hot guy without ever considering that I was punching above my weight. And on my worst day it has never occurred to me that things would be better if only I thought I was beautiful.

So Dove – I will happily and proudly walk through the door that says Average, and do not tell me or any other woman that there is something wrong with us for doing so.

And hey, Dove – there’s one other door I’d like to show you to; it’s the one that’s marked, EXIT.



How Old Is Your Favourite Children's Book Protagonist?

Have you ever wondered how old the characters are in your favourite childrens' books?

Books have always been a very important part of my children’s lives, and I have always loved the excitement elicited from one of my girls when the age of a character in a story I was reading matched their own. “I’m four, too!” somebody might shriek when first introduced to Harold and his purple crayon, and this bond has only grown as our children and their favourite protagonists have as well.

Watching my children’s connection to books evolve has been very gratifying. But now, beyond the joy of simple mirrored reflection or age recognition in a story’s characters, my girls and I look not only for books with protagonists that might match their age (keeping in mind that many books for early readers feature main characters older than their intended readers), but also fall on the spectrum of their current and future reading level, maturity level, and of course, interest in subject matter.

But how old are the protagonists in the books my kids might be interested in? Is my seven-year-old ready to enjoy classics like James and the Giant Peach? Is my nine-year-old going to relate to any of the characters in the Narnia series? Knowing that I could encourage my kids to try new books by saying, “I think you’ll like it; she’s nine, like you,” I looked around and found the ages of 50 popular characters in children’s literature. The age printed almost always reflects the character at the time of the first book they starred in, even if the book turned into an exhaustive series, so keep that in mind. And some ages may be approximate, as writers can be coy.