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Beauty and Self Perception: A review of Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign



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With social media and the blogosphere brimming with vast and drastically contrasting views on this recent phenomenon, I felt that I had a few things to share. Thoughts, personal opinions….all up for debate.

It might be only me, but my first reaction to the video was that it is much more about self-perception than about beauty. There is not much meaning in saying someone is more beautiful than she thinks, as it is entirely a matter of perception. The idea therefore is about a more positive image of oneself. The message did not even strike me as being gender specific before I read the several critiques of it. Beauty seemed only incidental, the concept of the video could apply to any of the various traits in ourselves that we judge (often too harshly) and which contribute to our overall self image.

It did not surprise me that the strangers in the video described the women in a more positive light than they did themselves. After all don’t most of us grow up learning that it is mean and socially inappropriate to say negative things about another person’s appearance? At the same time aren’t we also made to believe that praising your own beauty makes us come across as haughty and vain?  While I do think a lot of the comments the participants in the video made about themselves were indeed driven by a genuine sense of insecurity, it seemed only natural that a nice and polite stranger (as described in who met them for the first time would be more generous in describing them than they themselves, just going by codes of good social conduct. So the point being made was that we could look at ourselves in a more positive light if we chose to, just as these strangers did (which might be driven by what they considered socially appropriate behaviour). It’s after all, all in the mind! And that, is a powerful message!

However, I do see some of the points made by the myriad articles and posts criticizing the video. One consistent and fundamental objection against it has been that it reinforces the cultural stereotype of valuing external appearance as an asset, and that too, as per a narrow definition of beauty set forth by socio-cultural conditioning  as a measure of self worth. True, in an ideal world people’s notion of self worth should not be tied to physical beauty. Definitely not to the extent of affecting career choices, choice of friends and passing on inferiority complex to the next generation. In an ideal world it should be ok to not look good. But the truth is we do not live in an ideal world.

A lot of people blame media and beauty product brands for promoting the aspirational value of beauty. While they certainly play a role, I think the issue is more inherent, not to mention, far more timeless. It probably started at time immemorial with all the ballads and poetry extolling feminine beauty. But that’s besides the point.

This is an intuition (somewhat validated by a quick glance at Psychology papers), but I believe that to be able to like how one sees oneself is an important contributor to happiness.  The idea of aesthetics is intrinsically tied to our sensibilities, and so is the desire to be perceived well by others. I am not altogether sure if it is possible to completely separate one’s own perceived beauty from one’s overall self image and confidence, although, no doubt that would be ideal. At least, not easily.  Because it operates at a sub-conscious level. To not like what one sees in the mirror and yet be perfectly at ease with it is indeed difficult to achieve, maybe something that can potentially be altered by several years of conditioning.

What can change more easily, and yes, media plays a huge role here, is the definition of what constitutes beauty. To make it broad enough so that everyone finds something appealing in themselves. To try and break out of stereotypical narrow definitions of what is attractive. To reinforce the idea that everyone is beautiful for different reasons. The Dove campaign is a step in that direction. Though as some of the detractors aptly said, it does use some stereotypical indicators of beauty (e.g. thin, blue eyes, etc.) in its descriptions. But then again, it is not a scripted video. It is real people talking and there is only so much control over the exact details. And it never seemed that the underlying message has anything to do with the specifics.

Interaction designer by profession, writer and singer by hobby. Currently based out of New York, love to share ideas, get into interesting conversations, explore, brainstorm and get to know more...would appreciate your views on my blog posts so do leave a comment if anything stirs your thoughts :)

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Showing Your Love For Healthcare Workers



healthcare doctor

When you know and love a healthcare worker during this difficult time, you may be searching for ways that you can show you appreciation for the hard work that they do. Coming up with some great ideas can seem a little difficult, as many items are inaccessible and restrictions are closing shops and limiting travel. Luckily there are still many ways that you can show your love for the health care workers in your life, as there are several brilliant concepts which you can make the most of to put a smile on their face today. So, if you want to find out more, then read on to uncover some of the best suggestions that you can utilise to show appreciation during this difficult period. 

Make Their Life A Little Easier 

One of the best things that you can do for a healthcare specialist that you know and love during this tough period is to attempt to make their life a little easier. Extra long shifts battling against this new virus can have a terrible effect on a person’s mental health, as well as sapping away all of their energy at the same time. This can mean that things like doing their grocery shopping and making meals are often the very last thing on their mind, opening up the perfect opportunity for you to get involved and lend a helping hand. Doing a big food shop that you can take to their home after work will be such an amazing gesture they will no doubt appreciate, whilst going an extra step further to actually cook up a delicious meal that they can enjoy after a long day can put such a huge smile on their face. Be sure to make the most of healthy ingredients including lots of fresh fruit and veg, as they must look after their immune system to stay strong throughout. 

Little Extras 

There are several different little extras that you may want to invest in to show your health care loved ones a bit of appreciation, and you can get these items delivered straight to their home so that you needn’t bother trying to work around social distancing measures to drop off their present yourself. For example, something like a heart badge reel that they can add to their uniform can be a great pick-me-up that they can look down at for a little motivation during their long shifts at work! It’s also a great idea to find some self care activities that they can indulge in, such as a luxurious face mask or bubble bath that they can utilise to get some down time at the end of the day.

Showing your love for the healthcare workers in your life needn’t be as difficult as you might think when you can make the most of the top tips and tricks detailed above! Whether you decide to help them get their grocery shopping, cook a nutritious meal or simple invest in a few little gifts to put a smile on their face – every little helps!

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3 Steps to Becoming a Better Person



become a better person

We only get one life so it’s important to live it well, make the most of things and seize opportunities that come your way. If you’re hoping to make the most of your time on earth, here are just three ways you can go about it. 

Be more understanding

We all want to be the best person we can be, and a big part of that is relating to and getting on with other people. But it’s not always in the way we think, we don’t need to make grand gestures, we don’t need to be able to give therapist level advice or be a perfect friend in every sense. The main thing we need to do is be empathetic and understanding- be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It can be easy to be irritated, annoyed or upset if a friend lets you down, cancels plans or does something else undesirable but when you’re understanding you’re able to empathise about why this might be. Maybe they’re busy, have other priorities (as we all do) or double booked themselves. We’re able to cut ourselves slack as we know that we’re only human, do others the same justice. Being understanding doesn’t mean being a doormat and being walked over, you do still need to know when someone is taking advantage. But for the most part, the people in your life won’t be purposely trying to upset you, be more understanding and it’s easy to realise this. 

Find your own spiritual path

Having beliefs in something that matters to you can be a great way to live your life, it seems counterproductive but realising how small you are on this planet and as part of the greater universe can feel reassuring. It means that your problems are also small and often irrelevant, and as a result can help you to just get out there and live your best life. Being spiritual and having beliefs doesn’t have to mean being religious, there are many reasons you might be put off from traditional religion. While it helps many, there’s no denying that it’s also a cause of many wars, there are numerous church abuse lawsuits that have been filed across the globe and to some, it simply doesn’t fit their beliefs. But don’t write off finding greater meaning altogether, find your own spiritual path. This could be anything from numerology to deep meditation to trusting in the universe and it’s signals. Do some research and find a path that suits you. 

Find a good work/ life balance

Work is important, not only does it give your life purpose but it allows you to earn the money you need to have the lifestyle you want outside of work. Most of us have no choice but to work, but it’s easy to go overboard with it. Maybe you’re passionate about your job or are just a bit of a workaholic, take a step back. Find the balance between work and life such as travel, family, pets and hobbies. You’ll be much happier for it.

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Preventing Mould: Use These Simple Tips



cleaning mould

Maintaining a healthy and happy working environment is perhaps the most important thing we can do as homeowners. When buying a house, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that the space is kept clean and hygienic to keep us healthy throughout our lives.

One of the biggest health risks in the home is mould, and this can spread throughout the home quicker than wildfire without you even realising. Breathing in mould spores is bad for your respiratory system and it can cause a whole load of health issues if not fixed. That’s why today we are taking a look at how to prevent mould in the house once and for all. Use these easy tips to keep mould away from your home this year.

1. Know your weak spots

Every house will have its own weak spots and areas that are more susceptible to mould than others. Take a look around your house and see what weak spots you can uncover. Do you have a basement? If so, is it prone to flooding? The installation of a sump pump with liquid level sensors to keep water controlled might be helpful. Do the windows often accumulate a lot of condensation? If so, think about wiping them with a cloth and a squeegee regularly. Consider where the worst spots for mould are in the house and you should be able to find ways to fix them.

2. Getting drying

If you are looking to create the ideal environment for mould to grow, keep everything moist and wet. Mould spores thrive in humid conditions so if your house is often wet in places and hot, you need to remedy this right away. Get yourself a dehumidifier to clear the air and wipe all wet areas to make sure they are as dry as possible. If you do this every day you will prevent mould being able to make a home in your home.

3. Ventilate the house

It’s a delicate balance when looking at insulation versus ventilation, to know which one is more important. They are both equally important for different reasons, and if you have gone a bit over the top with insulation, this could be a solid reason why you have mould in the house. Air needs to be able to flow through the house to keep it dry, and if you don’t have airflow, your home will become humid and attract mould.

4. Seal cracks

Even the smallest cracks in your walls or ceilings can be a breeding ground for mould, and if you don’t seal up cracks you’ll run the risk of letting water into the home and therefore mould too. Seal up any small cracks and chips in your walls and this will make a big difference.

5. Clean the gutters

One way for mould to creep into the home is from above, and when water seeps into the foundation of your home the mould will follow. Cleaning your gutters will ensure that water doesn’t build up and end up seeping into the home without you realising. 

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