I don’t often write about things that are connected to advertising on here. Either because it’s already been said or, because it’s what I do for a living and I need to minimise the opportunities for being uncovered as a charlatan (which, let’s face it, is an ever present fear).
But this time I decided to say, “bums to all of that” and tell you why I think this is one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in a long, long time.
To do that I’ll have to tell you a wee story, so bear with me.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
Shortly before I left Ireland to embark upon my current adventure, I was lucky enough to have a few leaving parties. Opportunities for me to say some fond farewells to people that mean a lot to me.
The last of these was a dinner with some close girlfriends. We’re a mixed bunch – different ages, professions, characters etc. Some of my friends are writers and editors that happen to spend a lot of their time talking about fashion and beauty.
In particular, Emma, who runs a very good and deservedly award-winning beauty blog. Part and parcel of this is that Emma has to take a lot of photos of herself wearing the make-up that she’s reviewing, and for a few months we’d been gently ribbing her about her “photo face” and encouraging her to smile more in her pics rather than pout; because we think she looks infinitely more like her lovely self when she smiles and who doesn’t love a smile?! And, kudos to Emma, she took it on board and started smiling like a good’un.
Talk that afternoon turned to Emma’s new smiley pics as she was taking selfies (trying to see what she’d look like with different coloured eyes) at the table post lunch, and she remarked that she now has to take about half a dozen more smiley shots in order to get one she was happy with, whereas before she could just shoot and go. Emma said that as a general rule, it was that much harder for her to find a shot she didn’t hate. We’d made her life harder. Sorry , bab! Happily she’s come around to the smiling – and look at her, she’s beautiful! That’s the Emma we all know and love.
From there the conversation turned to how much we all hate seeing ourselves in photographs; and eventually, how much I hate seeing myself in photographs. Or the mirror. Or a shop window. Or the side of kettle – actually no, scrap that one – it’s like a hall of mirrors and can sometimes be remarkably flattering.
I let them into a little secret – I HATE my face. Not all of the time. Only about 70% of the time. I think it’s too fat, too jowly, too ashen, too… you name it, I probably hate it about myself. Mostly, I hate the dark circles that I have around my eyes ALL OF THE TIME, and, as I revealed that Sunday, I worry that they make me look like this guy…
Well, because my friends are nothing short of lovely they told me I was being ridiculous. There was a lot of laughing at exactly how ridiculous they thought I was being too. And, much like the women in the Dove videos, I felt silly for the way I feel about myself sometimes. And a bit angry and upset with myself.
And that’s why the Dove campaign rapidly became one of my all time favourites, in just the few short minutes that I watched their launch film – they had genuinely touched upon a real insight about how women think about themselves, versus how tother people see us. It’s sad that a lot of women feel this way – I wasn’t the only one around the table that day that had a similarly ridiculous “lookalike” fear.
There’s a phrase that it reminded me of, that I’ve long since forgotten the origin of - “If someone talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you’d have kicked them out of your life a long time ago.”
But beyond that, I didn’t feel patronised by it. There was no heavy-handed emotion wrangling from it. It made the point and let the point do all of the work. Just this – be nicer to yourself.
And I’ll try. And am trying – there’s nothing quite like doing the rounds of interviews and hot weather to make you question yourself. Am I really any good at my job and exactly how much like a sweaty pig woman do I look in this heat? But no – I shall channel Emma, and the rest of my lovely friends (you know who you are) when those voices start up.