There was a time in Indonesia when most famous actresses or ladies on TV ads were ones with mixed blood, either Indonesian-Caucasian or Indonesian-Middle Easterner. I think we should educate ourselves that there is not one single standard of (physical) beauty in the world—look throughout history and tribes and ethnics around the globe.
Urban cities in Indonesia have pools of girls and women who ‘adore’ these unrealistic standards of beauty. Look close in our office or place to work—we most definitely can find girls and women who are starving themselves to achieve this myth of beauty. They’d either skip breakfast & dinner and would just eat a mini portion of fruits or replace their meals entirely with cigarettes. It’s a pity that this trend also gains affection among women who have power and professional success. They loathe and hate their own bodies and seek—consciously or otherwise—society’s myth and obsession with physical perfection.
A little girl’s perception about beauty does not come from media or peer alone but first and most of all starts at home. She sees beauty as her mother and father see it. On one occasion I overheard a 6-year old Indonesian girl saying this to her friend, “Aku nggak mau makan ah, abis ntar gendut, nggak bisa kayak Barbie doll. Mama juga sering nggak makan karena takut gemuk.” (translated as “I don’t want to eat, because I’m afraid to gain weight and look fat, and cannot look like Barbie doll. My mom often skips meals because she’s afraid to gain weight.”)
I’m so grateful that my mom never instils this misguided perception of beauty to us—her three daughters. She used to say to us, including my brother, over and over again, that we have to be responsible, get good education, do regular exercise, and never wasting time. It’s never been about physical appearance. She said that beauty comes from within, from good heart and healthy dose of self-confidence. My father shares the same conviction about beauty. He said that healthy body is more important than skin-deep beauty. He used to joke that no men want to have starving-thin girlfriends. Thus, I always feel comfortable in my own skin and never thought about comparing my physical appearance to others. I’m confident that I have my own beauty. *smile*
Just in case, you live in a place where it’s hard to get high-speed Internet connection I quoted some information from the above-mentioned Campaign for you.
The Dove Self-Esteem Fund
The Dove Self-Esteem Fund is a national resource established as a link to Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, a program aimed at changing the current, narrow definition of beauty. We believe that to make a real difference, we must take action and contribute in ways that will help women and girls celebrate their individual beauty.
The goal of the Fund is two-fold:
- Develop tools and resources to help Canadian women and girls build stronger self-esteem.
- Support organizations in Canada that foster a broader definition of beauty and positive self-image among women or girls.
A Special Thanks…
We want to thank the women of Canada who have supported our fund-raising and awareness-raising efforts so far. Dove Canada is a real global leader in self-esteem initiatives, and we know that’s in large part due to the support we receive from you! Let’s continue to work together to make change possible.
Current Areas of Focus
The Dove Self-Esteem Fund will support image related self-esteem of girls and women in two ways:
- By supporting organizations in Canada that foster a broader definition of beauty and positive self-image among women and/or girls. This year, the Dove Self-Esteem Fund will support NEDIC, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre as well as ANEB, the Quebec Association for assistance to persons suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. Our support of these organizations will make possible workshops and online resources available to women across Canada in both official languages.
- By developing tools and resources to help Canadian women and girls build stronger self-esteem. This year, we will develop a guide that will help parents and other adult mentors build strong self-esteem in young girls, contributing to a stronger future for the next generation of women.
Actions in 2004:
- Dove formed a partnership with NEDIC (the National Eating Disorder Information Centre).
- “Dove Presents Beyond Compare: Female Photographers on Beauty,” a photography exhibition toured Canada and motivated over $20,000 in consumer donations to NEDIC.
- In addition, Dove sponsored an online learning module that will allow NEDIC to provide thousands of women and girls with information, guidance and support on weight preoccupation, image-related prejudice and disordered eating.
Dove believes that strong self-esteem is at the heart of feeling beautiful. Women who are truly beautiful feel good about themselves. They are unlikely to feel insecure, compare themselves to others or believe people who put them down. Instead, people who are happy and confident truly embrace life. Dove believes that every woman is entitled to feel this way and to celebrate her own beauty.
That’s why Dove is committed to making a real difference in women’s lives by working with organizations and programs that foster strong self-esteem among Canadian women and by developing tools and resources that will help individuals and groups make a difference for themselves.
“Women and girls have their self-esteem undermined every day in our culture, so the Dove Self-Esteem Fund is a much-needed resource,” says Dr. Carla Rice, clinician and professor.
Consider the following statistics:
- Body image dissatisfaction has been consistently found in girls as young as nine years old.1
- Several studies have demonstrated a desire to be thinner in girls as young as seven.2
- Only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.3
- Sixty-three per cent of women strongly agree that women today are expected to be more attractive than their mother’s generation.3
Think about the women and girls in your life. Wouldn’t you agree it’s time they were allowed to feel beautiful every day?
- Irving, L.M. (2000). Promoting size acceptance in elementary school children: The EDAP puppet program. Eating Disorders, 8, 221-232; Moreno, A.B., and Thelen, M.H. (1995). Eating behaviour in junior high school females. Adolescence, 30, 171-177.
- Ricciardelli, L.A., McCabe, M.P. (2001). Children’s body image concerns and
eating disturbances: A review of the literature. Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 325-344; Striegel-Moore, R.H., Schreiber, G.B., Lo, A., Crawford, P., Obarzanek, E., and Rodin, J. (2000). Eating disorder symptoms in a cohort of 11 to 16-year-old Black and White girls: The NHLBI Growth and Health Study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 27, 49-66.
- The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report
Lastly, I’d like to recommend you to read a classic book about this issue. It’s titled The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf, and was published in the early 90’s.
In its editorial review Amazon.com said the following about this book: In a country where the average woman is 5-foot-4 and weighs 140 pounds, movies, advertisements, and MTV saturate our lives with unrealistic images of beauty. The tall, nearly emaciated mannequins that push the latest miracle cosmetic make even the most confident woman question her appearance. Feminist Naomi Wolf argues that women’s insecurities are heightened by these images, then exploited by the diet, cosmetic, and plastic surgery industries. Every day new products are introduced to “correct” inherently female “flaws,” drawing women into an obsessive and hopeless cycle built around the attempt to reach an impossible standard of beauty. Wolf rejects the standard and embraces the naturally distinct beauty of all women.
From Library Journal
Journalist and poet Wolf presents a provocative and persuasive account of the pervasiveness of the beauty ideal in all facets of Western culture, including work, sex, and religion. In showing how this myth works against women and how women sabotage themselves by their complicity with this impossible standard, she discusses at length two unfortunate consequences: the growth in the number of bulimic and anorexic women and the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery. The facts are certainly stacked to prove her thesis but, for the most part, provide convincing evidence. In her final chapter, Wolf instructs women on how to crack the beauty myth. Recommended, especially for women’s studies collections.
For too long,
beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes.
You’ve told us it’s time to change all that.
Because we believe real beauty comes
in many shape, sizes and ages.
It is why we started the Campaign for Real Beauty.
And why we hope you’ll take part.
I did my part. Why don’t you? Let’s join Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and let’s make peace with beauty!